COUNCIL bosses were accused of “taking no responsibility for their own failings” during a meeting discussing the authority’s perilous financial situation.

Bradford Council announced earlier this month it was in discussions with the Government for “exceptional financial support” to try to balance a £73 million black hole in its current budget.

If this support was not forthcoming, the council would not be able to balance its budget, and have to effectively declare itself bankrupt.

The issue was discussed by the council’s executive, when leader Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe said the situation was down to 13 years of Government cuts and rising costs of social care.

But the district’s Conservative leader, Worth Valley councillor Rebecca Poulsen, claimed council bosses were "blaming everyone but themselves", arguing that other councils had “rolled up their sleeves and got on” with Government cuts.

Cllr Hinchcliffe said: “We have got to the point, after 13 years of Tory austerity, that 87 per cent of the council’s spend is on adult and children’s social care.

“That leaves just 13 per cent for everything else.

“We’ve had a 60 per cent cut in spending in real terms in Bradford over the last 13 years – £350m a year.

“The rising cost of living is having a hugely damaging impact on Bradford. The council is the safety net for the most vulnerable people, it helps pick them up and get them back on their feet.

“Sadly the way the economy has been mismanaged it has left us with lots of people in Bradford district in poverty.”

Chris Kinsella, finance director, said the gap in the current year’s budget was now £73m. The gap in next year’s budget was likely to rise to £103m.

Members were told that work was underway to reduce council costs, and details would be revealed next month.

He elaborated on the “exceptional financial support” the council was seeking from Government.

Currently any money the council makes through the sale of assets cannot be spent on services, such as social care.

If the Government grants the council the support it needs, it will be able to use income from property sales to boost the budget of other departments.

It would also allow the council to borrow money to balance its budget.

Cllr Hinchliffe added: “In 2010, 62 per cent of our funding came from Government – now it's just nine per cent.

“Agency costs are so high – the Government could cap these costs, or give us more money to help pay for them. But they don’t seem to want to do either.”

Councillor Sue Duffy, executive member for children and families, said: “We can’t get away from the fact that the Government has introduced a number of policies that directly impact families – things like cuts to benefits have exacerbated the issues faced by our poorest families.

“The Government approach to finance has been diabolical. What we have coming in the future is frightening."

Cllr Poulsen said the Conservative group's finance expert, Cllr Mike Pollard, had been predicting the council’s potential bankruptcy for much of the past year.

She said: “It gives us no pleasure to say we saw this coming.

"There should have been a plan in place for this many months ago.

"Waiting for details on the planned budget in the new year leaves council staff, residents and councillors in a dreadful situation – not knowing the fate of the council.

“The council’s leadership blames everyone else for the current financial situation, but takes no responsibility for their own failings.

“We don’t dispute there have been reductions in funding, but the majority of councils have rolled up their sleeves and got on with it.”

Cllr Pollard said he had independently struggled to produce a balanced council budget for the coming years, and had regularly questioned how the council would do so.

He added: “By the council refusing to fly the white flag until so late in the day is almost reckless.”