GOVERNMENT efficiency savings will register a huge blow for education in Rotherham, it was claimed this week.
Rotherham’s crisis-hit children’s services will bear the brunt of a £2.4 million cut in area based grants for the borough.
The coalition is slashing almost £1.2 billion from its local government purse—part of a plan to tackle the record deficit by saving £6.2 billion.
Elsewhere, projects aimed at improving transport in the borough have been shelved until a review is completed this autumn.
Borough council chief executive Martin Kimber said that the announcement had come as no surprise, but that work was now needed to quickly and fully analyse the detailed implications.
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He added: “Officers will now be working closely with members to decide the best way to make the savings expected of us while minimising the impact on our vital front line services for the people of Rotherham.
“Yes, this will be difficult. However, it is nothing new as the authority has, in recent years, been making significant efficiency savings as part of the economic downturn. This exercise will continue.”
Area based grants are allocated as additional funding for local authorities based on specific policy criteria.
In 2010/11, Rotherham will receive a total of £22.6 million in area based grants. This is down £2.4 million, 87 per cent of which will be lost from the budget for education and other children’s services.
The council’s Children’s Services department finished 2009/10 more than £4 million in the red and is working under a Government notice to improve.
Rotherham MP Denis MacShane claimed that school transport, youth clubs and teenage pregnancy projects would be among the areas affected.
He added: “These are short-sighted cuts. It will save nothing in the long run if teenage pregnancy rises, young people who have fewer things to do after school get drawn into crime or anti-social behaviour, and more vulnerable young people are left without the intensive support that could turn their life around.”
Communities secretary Eric Pickles said: “The nation’s deficit is running at £156 billion.
“Reducing that deficit, putting the finances back on a stable footing and continuing to ensure economic recovery is the most urgent issue facing Britain.”
The brakes have been put on three transport projects in the borough, including the long-awaited improvement of the A57 around either side of Todwick crossroads.
The Waverley Link Road and a new bus route between Rotherham and Sheffield have also been shelved pending a review.
Secretary of State for Transport Philip Hammond said: “Only once the Government’s spending review has been concluded will the DfT be in a position to identify those major investments that can be supported.
“Local authorities will also wish to consider carefully whether investing further time and resources in developing such schemes ahead of the Spending Review is justified.”
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