England & Wales Democracy, devolution and governance, Finance

LGIU members’ voices on finance in the media

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Last Wednesday we delivered the findings of the 2024 State of Local Government Finance in England survey. The report lays bare how widespread the desperate funding situation of councils really is. For the media, the findings became something of a smoking gun providing irrefutable evidence of the serious problems the country will face if local government funding is not urgently addressed.

The perilous state of council finances and the consequences for services and communities revealed by the report hit hard across the national media. News outlets including The Guardian, The BBC, The Times and The Daily Mail provided in-depth and sustained coverage.

LGIU Chief Executive, Jonathan Carr-West’s broadcast interviews included BBC Breakfast, Sky News and Five Live Radio, with additional coverage of the report on Newsnight and the Today programme.

What was particularly significant in the response to our report is the way that the media have engaged with the central tenet that the problem with local government finance is a systemic one and that urgent reform of the whole funding structure is needed.

The State of Local Government Finance is an annual survey of senior local authority personnel that the LGIU has been conducting for more than a decade. During that time the story that it has told has been one of a steadily worsening landscape of council finance in England. This year while that piece of the narrative remains consistent a tipping point has been reached.

The extensive media coverage last week demonstrated that the structural problem that has hamstrung local government for so long can no longer be denied or ignored. The last couple of years saw a handful of councils declare themselves effectively bankrupt. And central government has chosen to deal with each one individually.

The headline-grabbing stat to emerge from our report – that more than 50% of councils could issue a Section 114 within the lifetime of the next Parliament – makes it absolutely clear that councils can no longer be saved one at a time. The whole funding system is not fit for purpose and must be overhauled.

The response of the media to our report provides momentum to the ongoing call for urgent reform. As The Guardian’s editorial put it when discussing our survey findings “Underfunded council services generate social costs that put further pressure on budgets, degrading services and feeding alienation and public anger. This vicious cycle is an engine of political disaffection that, over time, corrodes confidence in democracy.”

Local government is woven into the fabric of our daily lives, it is the foundation of our local democracy and unless this crisis is addressed the consequences with be devastating.

To find out more and get involved in our campaign for urgently needed reform of local government finance please contact [email protected]



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