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Shock £2million 'service grant' cut to Bolton Council budget

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Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse

Shock £2million 'service grant' cut to Bolton Council budget 17477285

A shock government cut “decimating” a grant meant for Bolton has suddenly slashed £2million from the borough’s budget.

Council leaders say they were caught unaware when a “service grant” from the government that had been worth £2.8m last year was slashed to just £400,000 this time around.

Finance officers had been expecting a cut, but nowhere near this drastic, and so will have to resort to “riskier” strategies to try and plug the gap.

Council leader Cllr Nick Peel said: “It’s been decimated, that is the word, decimated.

“What the finance officers have to do is every year they make a presumption about what they think the government grant will be.

Shock £2million 'service grant' cut to Bolton Council budget 16835096

“It’s the same with councils all over the country, they all have to make those presumptions and what’s been happening over many years is the government throwing a spanner in the works.”

Anticipating less harsh cuts, finance officers had predicted they would receive around £2.3m this year, still somewhat less than the £2.8million last time.

But the drastic cut leaving just around £400,000 means that there is now an entirely unexpected gap of £1.9million to plug.

Cllr Peel said that the government had given “no indication” that this had been planned.

He said: “So it came as a shock to councils all over the country, we’ve nearly all lost money out of it.”

This comes after Bolton Council already finished its consultation on where around £9.1million worth of cuts will be made in its budget for 2024-2025.

Reports published by the authority have put forward money saving ideas like dimming streetlights and only collecting paper and cardboard waste every four weeks.

Other ideas have included the “alternative delivery” of up to two of Bolton’s 10 council run libraries.

Cllr Peel says that the timing of the service grant cut means that how these fresh cuts are implemented on the ground now cannot go out for consultation.

Instead, they may have to try and “plug the gap” using business rates, a move that Cllr Peel admits is “riskier.”

He said: “The real problem, and councils of every colour will say this, is that the government just doesn’t treat local authorities with respect.”

He added: “It just shows that the government has little regard for the needs of local councils.”

But the government has previously said that it hopes an extra £600m support package, £500m of which will go to social care, for councils all across England will help to meet people’s needs.

Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove MP said: “We have listened to councils across England about the pressures they’re facing and have always stood ready to help those in need.

“This additional £600million support package illustrates our commitment to local government.

“We are in their corner, and we support the incredible and often unsung work they do day-to-day to support people across the country.”


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