Leeds & West Yorkshire

Yorkshire councils warn of service cuts over funding

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Media captionLen Tingle reports on how councils in Yorkshire are coping with reduced budgets

A fourth year of cuts in government funding for local councils will lead to hundreds more job losses and fewer services, councils in Yorkshire fear.

Leeds City Council said it would have to cut at least 450 posts from its payroll to balance its books in the 2015-16 financial year.

Bradford City Council estimates 550 staff could lose their jobs.

The government insists the settlement for local government in England is a fair one.

The block grant from central government, which accounts for three quarters of councils' spending power, is down by almost 40% since the austerity programme began in 2010.

Councils also have less scope to raise extra revenue by increasing local council tax as the government is recommending the tax should be frozen or limited to a maximum 2% rise.

Local Government Minister Kris Hopkins, who is an MP for Keighley in West Yorkshire and a former leader of Bradford City Council, made clear that as far as he is concerned this is a fair settlement.

He said councils still had "considerable total spending power".

He has calculated the overall average reduction in spending power on local authorities in next year's budget was 1.8%.

That figure has been challenged by Peter Box, the leader of Wakefield Council and chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority.

He claims the cut in block grant is over 10% for next year because the government is relying on assumptions about how much additional incomes councils will receive from business rates and other fees and charges.

Yorkshire's largely Labour-run councils said the scale of cuts mean ring-fencing high budget services such as education, social care and children's services is no longer possible.

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