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Page last updated at 11:51 GMT, Tuesday, 15 June 2010 12:51 UK
Council cuts 'feel very real now'

By Mark Norman
Business Correspondent


BBC South East's Katherine Downes visits Swale Youth Project

"It feels very real now." The words of one council official I spoke to this week - a week in which some of our local authorities had to decide where to cut budgets that had already been agreed.

Why are they in this position?

The new coalition Government published details of the £1.166bn that Local Government has to contribute to the £6.2bn cross government savings in 2010/11.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles confirmed that no local authority would face reductions in their revenue grant of more than 2 percent. But for some councils that means a few difficult conversations telling others that there will not now be a cheque in the post.

The response from local councils

In talking to all our local councils we have got some mixed responses.

Some are able to delay their decision. Others are waiting for the emergency budget on 22 June, and a few do not expect to make major cuts until the spending review in the autumn.

However some smaller projects, funded by local authorities, are already either closing services or anticipating closures.

Homeless person
Some believe that council cuts will leave more people on the street

Porchlight, a Canterbury-based charity working with homeless people, says money they usually receive from the Future Jobs Fund is being cut. They believe it will result in more people sleeping on the streets!

The Kent Refugee and Minority Support Group say there is no money for the next financial year. They told us they are desperately writing bids for three-year funding, to be sent to charitable foundations. They face closure from the end of March next year.

Tony Old runs youth services in Swale. He says no new funding has come to light as yet so he faces more work without the funding to pay for it. At the moment he is about £16,000 short from a total budget of £30,000.

Other services face changes, cuts and new working practices.

Care for the elderly, careers services and rural bus routes all are under the spotlight.

A need to act quickly

This week the coalition Government said: "The need to act quickly to reduce the deficit means that Government departments have had to make difficult decisions about reducing grants to local government. Shielding the frontline has underpinned decisions on where savings can be found."

That message has been reiterated by every council we have spoken to. It is tough but as that official said to me: "It feels very real now."

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