COUNCILS in Dorset have had a total of £126million of central funding cut by the government, according to new figures.
The figures have been released by Unison who warn that ‘far worse is yet to come’ following the latest spending round by the chancellor and a possible £5.6billion worth of cuts planned by 2015/2016.
Data published by the Department for Communities and Local Government reveals that in the two financial years between 2010/2011 and 2012/2013, total government support for local authorities in England fell by almost £11billion.
Councils in the south west have been affected dramatically with Dorset County Council losing £66,539,000 in central funding, West Dorset losing £2,282,000 and Weymouth & Portland £2,124,000 Tanya Palmer, Unison South West regional manager, said: “These budget cuts are damaging, and hitting at the heart of what councils can deliver in terms of providing good quality services across the south west.
“Things like caring for the elderly and the vulnerable or picking up the bins and monitoring school performance are now second priority areas. These are essential services that councils deliver across the region and these massive cuts threaten those and many other vital services.”
Unison branch secretary, David Higgins, said the cuts are ‘horrendous and never ending’.
He said: “There are less and less people to do the work needed and constant redundancies.
“The figure of £126million in Dorset is a shock and I think politicians don’t always see what staff have to deal with on the frontline.
The latest figures were revealed after Dorset County Council’s leader issued a strong warning of further cuts to come.
The council has launched its Forward Together programme in a bid to save £48million over the next three years.
A total of around £18million in savings have already been identified in 10 overarching projects but the council still has a further £30million to find in order to plug the gap.
Councillor Spencer Flower said: “We can’t just embrace the past and take a bit off the edges, we have got to fundamentally change the way we do things.”
• Tomorrow we have a special report on Dorset County County’s mission to find that extra £30million in three years.