Tories criticise 'very late' council cash decisions
TORY chiefs at Derbyshire County Council have criticised the Government for being "very late" in deciding the authority's funding.
With just 10 weeks to go until the start of the new financial year, the council is still waiting for some details as to what it can spend in 2013-14.
Councillor John Harrison, cabinet member for finance, said it had made it difficult to set a budget – and said the delays from Whitehall were "disappointing".
The Government announced provisional sums of money it planned to spread across councils in England on December 19.
However, the implications on individual councils remained unclear for days.
Mr Harrison said councils ought to have received the information sooner.
At a cabinet meeting yesterday, he said: "The Government was very late in publishing the provisional settlement and that has created problems not just for this authority, but at authorities across the country.
"Through the Local Government Association, we have made strong representation to the Government about this matter and have strongly requested there is no repeat in future years."
Mr Harrison told cabinet members the council's start-up funding for 2013-14 had been worked out to be £246.8 million. With council budgets continuing to be squeezed, the amount is set to drop to £226.3 million in 2014-15.
The council has already shed 1,600 jobs since 2010 as a result of having its budget cut by the Government, with another 1,700 set to go by 2015.
These numbers were anticipated by the council last summer and have not been changed by last month's funding settlement.
Finance director Peter Handford told the cabinet some elements of the settlement were still unknown.
He said: "We're waiting for the final bits. We now have clarity on everything we need to know apart from the education services grant, which we estimate will be around £12 million."
Meanwhile, the Local Government Association has written to the Government urging it not to withhold money handed out to councils to help disadvantaged children.
The Government says it wants to administer the £150m pot centrally instead of handing it to councils.
Mr Harrison again said it was "disappointing" news and urged the Government to make it clear "sooner rather than later" how it will affect Derbyshire County Council.