Leeds City Council hit with more savage cuts from Whitehall

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LEEDS Council is warning that its “worst fears” have been confirmed after the Government announced more massive cuts to its budget.

Council leader Keith Wakefield said the two-year grant settlement for local authorities announced in Westminster yesterday means Leeds will lose 10 per cent of its budget next year, plus a further 15 per cent the following year.

It follows three years of swingeing cuts to council services since the Coalition came to power in 2010.

Coun Wakefield warned “no options are off the table” as the authority considers where else it can find the necessary savings.

“Today’s announcement has confirmed our worst fears,” the Labour leader said. “Continuing cuts on this level are not fair for Leeds residents, who are facing their services being reduced or stopped altogether.

“We will continue to make all the savings we can, but we have moved beyond the realm of the sensible and are now having to think the unthinkable.”

The Government insisted the cuts were “fair to all”, and that councils must carry their share of the ongoing austerity drive.

Local Government Minister Brandon Lewis said: “English local government accounts for £1 of every £4 spent on public services. The settlement recognises the responsibility of local government to find sensible savings.

“We have tried to be fair to every part of the country - North and South, rural and urban.”

But Coun Wakefield said this was “simply not true”, pointing to figures which suggested a “widening funding gap” between North and South.

Leeds MP Hilary Benn, Labour’s shadow local government secretary, added: “Why are the most disadvantaged communities once again the hardest hit?

“This Government, as they have shown time and again, take most from those who have least.”

Coun Judith Blake.

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