Portsmouth to lose almost £6m in funding sparking fresh austerity fears in the cityÂ

DISMAYED city leaders have warned of fresh austerity measures after the government slashed £5.9m of support from Portsmouth.

Thursday, 13th December 2018, 9:24 pm
Updated Friday, 14th December 2018, 7:32 am

Portsmouth City Council was dealt the crushing financial blow yesterday following a funding announcement by communities secretary, James Brokenshire.

The Tory bigwig was setting out the central support for councils in the next financial year which he said would give councils a real-terms increase in core spending power for 2019 to 2020 '“ up from £45.1bn this financial year to £46.4m.

But the move has left Portsmouth out of pocket by almost £6m, prompting fears the council will struggle to deliver services to city residents next year.

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It's the latest blow in the city's budget which has shrunk by 48 per cent since 2011 as part of on-going austerity measures '“ a drop of £73m in all.

City council boss Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson was stunned by yesterday's news. He said: '˜This is a real blow for the city.

'˜We have been expecting a cut of this size, and have been preparing for it as much as possible.

'˜But that doesn't make it any easier. This is a very big cut in the money we need, and it is now even harder for us to avoid cuts in the services that Portsmouth people rely on.

'˜It's particularly disappointing given the difficulty we have continuing to provide proper social services for adults and children in need.'

The funding change, known as the local government finance settlement, is the annual determination of funding to councils.

It needs to be approved by the House of Commons in early 2019.

Stephen Morgan, Portsmouth South MP, said the brunt of the cuts would be felt by the city's most vulnerable residents.

He said local councils '˜desperately' needed extra cash to prop-up '˜under-pressure' services like children's and adult social care.

Now he fears that next year will be '˜hugely challenging for Portsmouth', claiming councils will still face an overall funding gap of £3.2bn in 2019/20.

'˜It is disappointing the government has not used the secretary of state's announcement today to provide further desperately-needed resources for Portsmouth, meaning many more tough decisions, services scaled back and communities hit hard,' he said last night.

Mr Brokenshire stood by his plan and said it would deliver '˜real-terms increases' in spending for councils.

'˜I'm delivering a settlement which paves the way for a fairer, more self-sufficient and resilient future for local government and a brighter future for the people and places they serve,' he said.