“The Chancellor billed today’s spending round as an end to austerity. And while it’s true that local government has seen its biggest spending increase in a decade, the Chancellor should not expect too many plaudits from councils across the country. This additional money does not undo a decade of cuts that bled councils dry.
In terms of clarity about how local government is to be funded sustainably in the future, we are no clearer today than we were yesterday. We still don’t know the outcome of the Fair Funding Review. We still don’t know how business rate retention will work.
This Spending Round provides funds for services. And while that is better than not funding services it is not as good as funding local government.
We know that to make services effective in the future, they need to be multiagency, integrated, preventative and shaped around local needs and assets. You can only achieve that by funding local government and letting democratically elected local leaders decide on local priorities not by throwing isolated pots of money at individual service areas.”
Notes to editors
The Local Finance Taskforce launched in February 2018 with support from LGiU members. Over the past year and a half, the Taskforce consulted 245 senior figures within local government on the future of local government funding. The final report, launched in July 2019, brought together this evidence and recommended a local government-led path to a sustainable financial future.
In February 2019, as part of the LGiU’s Annual State of Local Government Finance report (PDF document), the LGiU released the results of annual survey of Chief Executives, Leaders, Cabinet Members for Finance and Chief Finance Officers. Key results included:
Eight in ten (80%) councils said they were not confident in the sustainability of local government finance; none said they were ‘very confident’.
Almost one in ten (9%) councils were anticipating legal challenges this year due to reductions in service provision and over half (53%) of councils said that the current financial situation in local government is negatively affecting their relationship with citizens.
Children’s Services and Education was the top immediate financial pressure for the second year running (36% of councils), ahead of Adult Social Care (23%) which has historically ranked highest. However, Adult Social Care was still under severe strain, being named as the top long term financial pressure (37% of councils).
Councils said they would be forced to cut many community services this year, with reduced activity expected across libraries (32% of councils), arts and culture (46%), parks and leisure (45%), waste collection (22%), recycling (11%) and roads (38%).
Further detail available here.
The Local Government Information Unit (LGiU) is a think tank and membership body with over 200 councils and other organisations subscribing to our networks. We work to strengthen local democracy and put citizens in control of their own lives, communities and local services. For more information, visit www.lgiu.org.