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Government under fire as crunch budget debate may be delayed

Anne Western.

Anne Western.

A crunch meeting to rubber stamp spending cuts and a council tax hike in Derbyshire may have to be postponed.

Derbyshire County Council (DCC) proposals to slash almost £40million from its budget during the next year while increasing the tax charge by 1.99 per cent are due to be formally approved at a debate next week.

However, that meeting may have to be held at a later date as the Labour-led authority – which will axe a total of 1,600 jobs – is still awaiting Government guidance to determine whether a referendum will be needed to raise council tax by 1.99 per cent. DCC leader Councillor Anne Western told a cabinet meeting on Tuesday that the Government was holding the budget process up.

She said: “Previously, all the details have been released before Christmas. We don’t know what situation we’re in right now – it’s disappointing. We don’t want to trigger a referendum as it would cost £1m – that would be a waste of money.”

The authority has proposed the council tax hike to help combat a budget shortfall of £157m over the next four years.

During the meeting, councillors provisionally approved plans to slash £36.7m from its budget during the next year, affecting vulnerable adults, children and highways.

Cllr Andrew Lewer, leader of the Conservatives on DCC, said it was “a budget of missed opportunities and higher costs for Derbyshire residents”.

Cllr Western said the council had difficult decisions to make in light of Government cuts.


 
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