Portsmouth City Council feels pinch as government funding continues to shrink

PORTSMOUTH City Council has had to make savings of almost £100m due to government cuts, it has been revealed.

Tuesday, 24th July 2018, 9:10 pm
Updated Tuesday, 24th July 2018, 9:24 pm
Council leader Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson

In a trend that is increasingly common with local authorities nationwide, the council has seen its funding reduced by 48 per cent since 2011, equating to £73m.

Further financial pressures including inflation and increased demand on adult and child services have meant the council was forced to save £94m in that time, putting further strain on other services.

The council was provided with a general fund grant of £78m from government for the 2017 financial year. In comparison it received £151m in 2010 and £132m in 2011.

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Council leader, Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, said: 'Everybody knows local governments have huge pressures on their budgets. We have lost around 40 or 50 per cent of what we used to get. That has made very difficult decisions for everybody across all parties. It is really really tough.

'Also at the same time the number of children in care is higher. We have 100 children going into care every week. To look after them in a home costs around £2,000 per child a week.

'And we have got more people over the age of 85 now. They are people who use more adult social services than anyone else. Supporting people to continue living at home or funding places in nursing homes is expensive. The demand is just going up and up.'

However, he was confident that investing the council's money into properties was the way forward. He added: 'Portsmouth City Council is an entrepreneurial council. We are currently investing about £130m in ventures but we could do more.

'During the Tory administration a lot of money was invested in sites outside of the city. For example in April they bought an office block in Manchester. It needs to be looking at investing within Portsmouth.

'For example I have asked to buy St James' Hospital, the council will put a bid in. We can make a profit on this but also we will build fewer houses on the site than other developers would.'

The largest amount of council cash comes from government grants. It is expected by 2019 a further £13m will be cut.