Local finance taskforce
Councils are facing a cliff-edge and need answers now.
About the Local Finance Taskforce
Local authorities are in a precarious financial situation.
With a Government preoccupied with Brexit, the creaking NHS and the housing crisis, the urgent questions about future council resourcing remain unanswered.
Business rate retention policy has been scaled back and delayed, the fair funding review has yet to report and the social care green paper is long overdue. All the while Revenue Support Grant is still on course to disappear by 2020.
Councils are facing a cliff-edge and need answers now. 2019 must be the year this happens.
LGiU has led the Local Finance Taskforce through 2018 and 2019, working with senior local government representatives and sector experts to raise the profile of these issues to a wider audience and force the Government to provide much-needed policy clarity.
We have worked to keep the issue at the top of the media agenda and have brought the issue to different audiences. We have brought local government voices into the debate by facilitating constructive conversations with Government and finding areas of consensus. This work included:
- the Local Government Finance Scorecard: What are the options?
- key Party Conference platforms to raise the profile of council funding
- regional policy cafes with leaders and chief officers to discuss way forward
- online consultation
- State of Local Government Finance Survey
The taskforce found some clear areas of consensus on the actions required, while other areas were identified as crucial but in need of further exploration. The Taskforce final report, published in July 2019, brings together these two strands into a set of recommendations for central government and a set of principles that should underpin the design of the future system.
A roadmap to a sustainable financial future lays out a set of recommendations, principles for council future funding system and a roadmap to a sustainable future for local government.
We are calling for an emergency one year funding settlement to provide councils with enough headroom to plan their next budget without severely damaging public service delivery.
When we launched the Local Finance Taskforce at the start of 2018, the conversation around council funding had retreated from the ambition of devolution and become narrowly focused on delivering a pared down version of 100% Business Rate Retention Scheme. However, since then there have been positive signs that the debate is beginning to encompass a wider range of ideas and a more holistic perspective on financial sustainability. Nevertheless, the central problem remains: councils are unable to plan their finances further than eight months in advance.
That is why we are calling for an emergency one year funding settlement to provide councils with enough headroom to plan their next budget without severely damaging public service delivery.
Urgent action is required to reduce uncertainty, but so is a thoughtful and ambitious strategy for the future of council finances and the role of local government. Our road map lays out the key areas on which local and central government stakeholders must collaborate.
LGiU will continue to campaign on behalf of local government to achieve a sustainable financial future, pushing the recommendations from the final report and developing further research.