Leeds 'Black Monday' as budgets slashed

Leeds is today bracing itself for "Black Monday" as the government reveals exactly how much council and police budgets will be slashed by.

Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles was this afternoon publishing the financial settlements for West Yorkshire's councils, which are expected to include deep cuts to next year's budgets.

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Coun Keith Wakefield, leader of Leeds City Council, expects to have to cut spending by a massive 90m in the New Year and has warned that the city will suffer economic measures "not seen since the thirties".

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The Commons statement has been delayed while government officials attempted to correct vast geographical differences in funding caused by the ending of ring-fenced grants for tackling deprivation. The money will now be rolled into the main revenue support grant.

Leaked figures showed that initially a handful of districts in the affluent South East of England were due to receive funding increases of up to 37 per cent over four years, while some of the most deprived councils in the north suffer cuts of up to 37 per cent.

Mr Pickles, who has pledged that no council will face cuts of 20 per cent next year, is reported to have unsuccessfully asked for more money from the Treasury to mitigate against the fact that the deepest council cuts will "frontloaded" and made next year.

The government will also today outline the exact cut to be made to West Yorkshire Police's budget next year.

Last month the YEP revealed the constabulary is considering using an obscure regulation to require officers with more than 30 years of service to retire.

The government will also today publish its long awaited Localism Bill, which will hand local community groups new powers to save under threat pubs, shops, libraries and leisure centres.

Mr Pickles said: "This powerful series of measures puts new rights in law for people to protect, improve and even run important frontline services."

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