MORE cuts in Government spending have been attacked by Kirklees Council.
The Home Office has confirmed it is making big cuts in budgets for community safety projects – including crime prevention initiatives like the Street Marshals who patrol Huddersfield.
And that means that Kirklees looks like having to cut its budget even further.
Clr Mehboob Khan, Leader of Kirklees Council, has criticised a Home Office decision to hold back vital funding information for Community Safety Partnerships until after most town halls have set their budgets.
After delaying the announcement that local authorities nationally face a reduction on last year’s £71.2m to just £56.8m from April 1, 2011, the Home Office has now written to all English councils informing them that they face a further cut to just £28.8m from April 2012.
Kirklees had spent about £1.2m on community safety this year and was looking to reduce that to just over £1m next year, with further cuts in the following year.
But now the authority may have to cut back still further.
The Local Government Association, which represents more than 350 councils in England and Wales, has persistently called for the Home Office to inform councils of their intentions since December.
The Home Office finally announced the overall amount available to councils through the Community Safety Fund on January 31, but did not tell individual councils how much they would receive for 2012 until last week.
Clr Khan, who also chairs the Local Government Association’s Safer and Stronger Communities Board, said: “The Home Office’s failure to fully inform councils of these drastic cuts in time for future budget setting is unacceptable.
“Town halls have been consulting with residents and making tough decisions for some time. For a Government department to hold back crucial information makes this already difficult process almost impossible.
“Councils knew the cuts were coming and have planned ahead. However, if they had all the information when necessary, it would have been a lot easier to plan and minimise disruption to the vital services delivered by community safety partnerships.
“On one hand, the Government is reducing vital funding to councils and on the other five Secretaries of State are jointly writing to them demanding that they give priority to community safety when setting budgets.
“Town halls know making people feeling safe and secure in their communities is one of their most important duties.
“In Kirklees, delays to any concrete announcements make it more difficult to find alternative funding for such things as night marshals and target hardening schemes, which make it harder for crimes to be committed.”