"There is no £40 million black hole", says council leader

A county chief has snubbed rumours that there is a 40 million funding black hole in the councils budget.
A county chief has snubbed rumours that there is a 40 million funding black hole in the councils budget.

A county chief has snubbed rumours that there is a £40 million funding ‘black hole’ in the council’s budget.

However, leader of Bucks County Council (BCC), Martin Tett, warned councillors there are still “intense pressures” on services as the council attempts to cope with reduced government funding.

The leader hinted certain councillors are to blame for suggesting there is a massive funding shortfall in the county, and went on to insist “there is no £40 million black hole” at a meeting of BCC’s cabinet this morning (May 21).

Cllr Tett said: “There are various organisations, who shall remain nameless, who are going round promoting to the public that the county council has a £40 million black hole in its budget.

“I would say when I presented the budget back in February I did not notice that, and indeed many of the people making that comment were sitting in the audience and voted on the budget they are now criticising.

“I am a bit puzzled by this £40 million black hole.”

In the same meeting councillors discussed a government report on Northamptonshire County Council – in a bid to see if they could learn from the mistakes made by the bankrupt authority.

BCC’s budget has become increasingly strained, as this year it became the first council, along with Dorset, to receive no revenue support grant from the government.

Cllr Tett assured councillors Bucks is in a “significantly different” position to Northamptonshire, but added the council needs to focus on delivering savings in order to remain financially stable.

Increasing pressures on adult social care and the failing children’s services are squeezing the budget even further, which reduces funding in other areas such as road maintenance, according to Cllr Tett.

He continued: “Local government has taken the brunt of the government’s attempts to reduce the overall national deficit.

“The pressures within the social care portfolios, both children’s and adult, is very intense and invisible to most of our residents.

“The problems is it’s not like it’s the roads that are the pressure – it’s these two statutory services which are the legal pressures on us and we have to meet them, and they will continue to rise.

“That’s the reality for it, which means the money available for other services is likely to continue to remain under intense pressures going forward and that will impact on what residents see being delivered by the councils going forward.”

The leader added the council is “far from going bust” – however said the council’s mission to make savings in certain areas will be viewed as a “deterioration of services” to residents.