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Winchester in danger of £6m budget shortfall, civic chiefs warn
11:00am Tuesday 24th September 2013 in Winchester
CIVIC chiefs have warned the city council could face a budget shortfall of almost £6m in five years.
Finance boss Stephen Godfrey said a reduction in government grants would soon tighten council purse strings. Speaking at a scrutiny committee meeting on Monday (Sept 23), he said: “We have many financial challenges. There are going to be further reductions in financing from central government of around 10 per cent per annum for the foreseeable future.
“Over a five year period it will be necessary to make significant savings while creating some headroom for new or expanded requirements.”
The council expects reductions in new homes bonus grants and could lose it altogether, while council tax support will also decrease.
Some councillors called for a review of services to see what could be spared to save money.
Cllr Simon Cook said: “If we have such a deficit coming does that not imply that we should be cutting some things that we do in some ways? There comes a time where somebody has to say we can no longer do this.
“We are simply going to have to talk to other local authorities about working in cooperation about operating services in other ways.”
Council leader Keith Wood said one way the council was trying to reduce the shortfall was to make the most of its assets, such as land in the Carfax area which could be redeveloped.
He said: “There’s a lot of commercial confidentiality around this but as we look ahead we can see there’s a great shortfall in revenue so our policy is to try and provide significant income from assets so any reduction in grants is tempered by that increase.
“We cannot match it all but we are doing what we can.”
He added: “The fact we are identifying this as a problem in five years time gives us time to take steps to reduce it considerably. Our policy is to avoid a ‘night of the long knives’ situation and work out a way to continue providing a balanced budget.”
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