LGA response to the 2015 Budget

LGA media release 18 March 2015

Responding to the Chancellor's Budget announcement today, Local Government Association (LGA) Chair Cllr David Sparks, said:

"This Budget has acknowledged the need for changes to the way public services are funded and delivered and for more of the important decisions to be made closer to the people who use them. But it has not protected funding or delivered the bold approach to English devolution which will be essential to the survival of our libraries, children's centres, parks and local buses in the next few years.

"The adult social care system is currently stretched to breaking point. If older people are to get the quality of care they deserve then funding for care must be protected. Investing money in the NHS while forcing councils to cut their social care budgets is simply a false economy. This hasn't been addressed by the Chancellor today, which makes it all the more vital that it becomes one of the biggest priorities for the next Government.

"Councils have long been calling for reform of out-of-date business rates and for any growth in receipts from this tax to be retained by local government. The announcement of pilots in Greater Manchester, Cheshire East, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough keeping a greater share of this income is a significant step forward, but one which should not just be limited to a couple of areas. All parts of the country should be able to reap the benefits of having a thriving local economy. This should be implemented as soon as possible in a way which ensures areas with fewer businesses do not lose out.

"Central government needs to seize the opportunity presented by the review of business rates to create a more effective local tax where rates and discounts are set locally and councils have much more freedom to support small firms.

"The greater say people in Greater Manchester and now West Yorkshire will have over their local transport, skills provision and welfare policy will save money and improve services.

"Economists, business leaders and councillors all agree that a much bigger and faster approach to devolution for all places – both inside and outside our big cities – is essential for the economy and survival of good quality public services.

"Local areas having autonomy over their local services should no longer be dependent on incremental concessions from Westminster. The future of local services depends on this becoming the default."

Looking ahead to the next Parliament, Cllr Sparks added:

"Between the Chancellor's first Budget in 2010 and the end of the next financial year, the money Government gives to councils to provide local services will have fallen by 40 per cent. Local authorities have played a huge role in balancing the country's books, but more of the same cannot be an option in the next five years.

"The next Government must protect funding for local services, tackle the adult social care crisis and set out a new settlement for England which devolves decisions about infrastructure and skills as well as health and social care, down to local areas.

"Motorists who rely on good roads, young families who use local children's centres and older people who depend on care will all feel the repercussions of a failure to fundamentally reform how their services are provided and paid for."

Notes to editors

The LGA's Budget submission to the Treasury can be found here

It calls on Government to:

  1. Protect public services in England and ensure adequate funding so that councils can provide these services locally.
  2. Make place-based finance, underpinned by multi-year settlements for all local public services, the default method of service funding and delivery, empowering local partners to work towards shared outcomes.
  3. Engage in true, meaningful devolution of decision-making powers and funding to the local level. The devolution settlement across the UK has to be fair.

ends

Contact

Simon Ward, Deputy Head of News and Internal Communications
Local Government Association
Telephone: 020 7664 3147
Media Office (out-of-hours contact): 020 7664 3333
Email: simon.ward@local.gov.uk
LGANews Local Government House, Smith Square, London SW1P 3HZ

www.local.gov.uk

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19 March 2015