Town halls can cut more: Pickles

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Published: Tuesday 24th February 2015 by The News Editor

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Town halls are still ripe for a spending squeeze, Eric Pickles said in a warning to local councils to brace for further funding cuts if the Tories are in power after the general election.

Authorities warned last year they were being “pushed to breaking point” after being told they would have to slice around another £2.6 billion from their budgets.

Since 2010 they have borne the brunt of the Government’s deficit reduction austerity drive – leaving many warning of higher charges, taxes and service cuts.

With other spending areas promised protection from cuts, local council chiefs fear they will again be targeted for significant savings, raising concerns some could spiral into financial difficulty.

Mr Pickles said he had no such concerns about any specific council and made clear he felt town halls could easily find ways to operate on even smaller budgets.

“I still think that there is room for greater efficiencies inside local government,” he told the Commons Communities and Local Government Committee.

“Some of the criticisms that were made at the beginning that it would be the end of local government, that local government was simply not going to be able to cope, has proved not to be the case.

“Local government has done exceedingly well but I still think there is money that we can get out of the system.

“That is going to be local authorities merging not just their back office but their front office.

“It is going to mean an improvement of procurement, after all a 2% saving would generate £1 billion a year.

“It is certainly my view that it is possible to produce good local government at a still lesser cost.”

Published: Tuesday 24th February 2015 by The News Editor

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