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Great Yarmouth Borough Council braces for £1m drop in government funding

PUBLISHED: 13:35 29 January 2014 | UPDATED: 13:35 29 January 2014

The Norfolk seaside town of Great Yarmouth. January 2014.
Views of the Great Yarmouth Town Hall, River Yare, Haven Bridge and South Quay.
Picture: James Bass

The Norfolk seaside town of Great Yarmouth. January 2014. Views of the Great Yarmouth Town Hall, River Yare, Haven Bridge and South Quay. Picture: James Bass

Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2014

Great Yarmouth Borough Council has revealed the total amount of money it expects to receive from the government towards general running costs in 2014-15.

The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has indicated the authority’s grant will total £7,023,364 – a reduction of 13.8pc on the £8,146,803 received in 2013-14, not including the efficiency support grant.

Borough council officers said this is the largest proportional reduction in spending power of any council in the UK – 18.36pc.

But the government has pledged that no council will suffer a reduction in spending power of more than 6.9pc, which enables the borough council to bid, for a second year, for a £1.9m efficiency support grant.

In recognition of the borough council’s success in implementing efficiency measures, the DCLG has also offered an efficiency reward grant of £279,647.70 to further assist this work.

These grants are targeted for efficiency work.

They are not designed to support the day-to-day running of the council in the same way as the revenue support grant or business rates.

Brian Walker, the borough council’s deputy leader and cabinet member for resources, said: “In recent years, Great Yarmouth Borough Council has seen among the highest reductions in the UK of Government grant funding towards revenue costs.

“The borough council has been successful in radically reforming its structures and processes to maintain, and in some cases improve, services in the face of continued Government funding reductions, high public expectations and demands.

“This ongoing efficiency work will play a key role in balancing the budget for 2014/15 – and cabinet is currently considering options for the draft budget, which I will comment on once it has been published in early February.”

Last year, the borough council made a successful bid to gain an efficiency support grant of £1.864m for 2013-14 because it faced a £2.8m (25.4 per cent) reduction in its central government funding.

This reduction far exceeded the maximum allowed, which was set at 8.8pc, and was the largest proportional cut of any local authority in the UK.

Following a business plan submitted with the bid, the borough council has used the grant to help make many innovative changes to how the authority operates, which have been recognised by the DCLG through the offer of the efficiency reward grant.

Trevor Wainwright, the council leader, said: “This efficiency reward grant is a huge vote of confidence in the ongoing efforts of the borough council to transform both the way it operates and its structure to maintain services in the light of funding cuts and continued demand.

“These far-reaching changes range from the £3.5m investment in the Marina Leisure Centre, and the drive to promote the Town Hall for private functions, through to back-office reforms which are not as obvious but equally important.”

A progress report on the borough council’s efficiency work was presented to the scrutiny committee on November 21.

The draft budget is scheduled to be considered by cabinet on February 12 and full council on February 18.

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