Jonathan Carr-West, Chief Executive of LGIU, said:
“The Chancellor’s budget proved more generous than expected for many.
Local government will be pleased that a key sector demand has been listened to as we finally have a multi-year settlement that allows for better long term planning for councils.
Grant increases of £1.6bn per year for the next three years and a 3% increase in core spending power, do not undo a decade of cuts but they are a step in the right direction. However, we should never forget that this 3% increase depends on councils taking the political risk of increasing council tax to the maximum permitted extent.
Social care costs will continue to rise, especially given the announcement of an increase in the minimum wage. That will eat into most, if not all, of a 3% increase in spending power. And, it’s still far from clear when the benefit of national insurance contribution increases will be felt across social care.
The wait continues for the Government’s much anticipated Levelling Up White Paper. And, for those who believe that levelling up can only succeed in partnership with local government, there was little grounds for optimism in this budget which continues to be allocated through bid funding and regional and sub regional authorities getting the largest chunks of it.
After over a decade of austerity, local government has learned to take nothing for granted and to read the small print very carefully. Nonetheless, a sector that was braced for more pain will be feeling this afternoon that things could have been worse.”