Commenting on the Local Government Finance Settlement today, Cllr Howard Sykes, Leader of the Liberal Democrats at the Local Government Association said:
“Is the Secretary of State auditioning for a role in A Christmas Carol? He seems to have been playing a very good Scrooge.
“Years of unprecedented central government funding cuts have left many councils beyond the point where council tax income can be expected to plug the growing funding gaps they face. Local government faces an overall funding gap of £5.8 billion by 2020. Children’s services, adult social care and homelessness services are at a tipping point as a result of funding gaps and rising demand and increasingly little is left to fund other services, like cleaning streets, running leisure centres and libraries, and fixing potholes. While some councils will receive extra funding next year, the Government needs to provide new funding for all councils over the next few years so they can protect vital local services from further cutbacks.
“There was nothing extra today for key services like social care and children’s services. This is a bit like getting a wrapped up empty box for Christmas.
“A small amount of extra flexibility for local authorities in setting council tax levels will not go nearly far enough to fill the funding gap. Liberal Democrats are also very clear that the government should replace council tax with a fair local tax based on ability to pay, so that future rises do not hit those least able to afford it”.
“Only with fairer funding, new powers and fiscal freedoms over the next few years and beyond can councils ensure children and adults receive the care they deserve, desperately-needed homes are built and roads are maintained to high standards and protect other services, such as maintaining our parks and green spaces and running leisure centres and libraries.”
Notes: More information on the LGA’s response can be found here: https://www.local.gov.uk/local-government-finance-settlement-2018 and at https://www.local.gov.uk/parliament/briefings-and-responses/provisional-local-government-finance-settlement-201819-day