Wakefield Council: Latest cuts will ‘spell the end’ of local services

Peter Box after announcing budget proposals' 'LOCATION:  Wakefield Town Hall
Peter Box after announcing budget proposals' 'LOCATION: Wakefield Town Hall

The leader of Wakefield Council said today’s announcement by Chancellor George Osborne would “spell the end” of some local services.

Coun Peter Box said cuts to the council’s budget of 10 per cent announced in the government’s Spending Review would put frontline services at risk.

The council now has to save £142m between 2011 and 2018, instead of the £130m that it was previously working towards.

Coun Box said: “The reality is that some of our frontline services are now under threat.

“The government has completely undermined our ability to deliver all the services we currently provide. There is absolutely no doubt that areas like children’s centres, leisure facilities and highways maintenance are now at serious risk.

“Since 2011 we have made savings across the entire council through a mixture of budget cuts, job reductions, doing things differently and sales of assets. But we are now in a position where we simply cannot carry on as we are.

“We have a legal obligation to deliver certain services, like protecting vulnerable people, and these will be protected but it is no longer a question of if we cut frontline services, but when.”

Coun Box said the Chancellor’s latest revelations meant that by 2017/18 the council’s core funding from the government would have been cut by almost 50 per cent since 2010/11.

Mr Osborne announced widespread cuts and changes to the welfare system this morning, as he aims to save £11.5bn in 2015/16.

But he promised high-quality public services at an affordable price and said the unfairness of the “something-for-nothing culture” of welfare would end.

Public sector union Unison said the cuts would “devastate communities” and could cost 15,000 people their jobs in Yorkshire and Humberside.

Unison regional manager Chris Jenkinson said: “This latest economic attack on local government will inevitably impact on essential front-line services.

“Services to young people and social care for the elderly will be further damaged. We are already seeing libraries and leisure centres closing, and more will follow in the wake of these latest cuts.

“The Government’s ‘austerity’ programme is systematically tearing the heart out of our communities.”