The Government has announced further cuts to council budgets, with Ministers citing a reduction in “spending power” for Leeds of 2.3 per cent.
The problem with the spending power measure is it takes account of funding set aside in NHS budgets as part of the Better Care Fund.
The council’s general grant cut in Leeds next year is actually nearer to 15 per cent.
The Government used the same trick last year, with the Better Care Fund money double counted in both the NHS and council budgets, having been announced as part of both the NHS and council settlements.
To arrive at the 2.3 per cent “spending power” cut cited by Ministers for Leeds City Council, over £26m of money from the NHS in Leeds would have to be transferred to the council next year.
Yes, the council and the NHS in Leeds are working together much better than ever before to improve health outcomes for people in the city.
However it is rather a large assumption by Ministers to think this money offsets their cuts to the general council budget, as the money is specifically intended to meet shared health and care pressures.
Budget cuts in Leeds have seen the council have to find savings of around £250m since 2010. In percentage terms, the budget is forecast to have been cut by 45 per cent by 2017.
Despite the best efforts to protect front line services the Government’s continuing budget cuts cannot fail to have an impact on services for vulnerable people in the city.
One of the most damning indictments I have heard is the report by the National Audit Office that said Ministers are unaware of the impact of their cuts on local authorities.
I would go further and say the effort to disguise how much council budgets will be cut next year by counting NHS money in the council’s budget indicates that Ministers are really more bothered about playing politics than the impact their policies have on people’s lives.
Councillor Lisa Mulherin, Executive Member for Health and Wellbeing, Leeds City Council
We survived in smokier times
IN regard to the Government’s proposed ban on smoking in cars with children, I am a pensioner approaching my mid-70s and can’t help but wonder how I, together with millions like me, got to this age. As a child in the early 1940s I would sit on my grandad’s knee when he smoked his pipe and had parents who smoked in the house.
During my late teens and early twenties pubs were full of smoke.
How did the millions of OAPs who went through similar circumstances ever achieve the age we are?
A Geldard, Gateforth, North Yorkshire