Responding to the 2017 Autumn Budget, Lord Porter, Chairman of the Local Government Association, said:
“The LGA has long called for councils to be given greater freedom to borrow to build new homes and today’s Budget has taken a step towards that by lifting the housing borrowing cap for some councils. This is an important recognition of our argument about the vital role that councils must play to boost homes for local families in need and solve our housing crisis, but does not go far enough.
“Our national housing shortage is one of the most pressing issues we face. The last time this country built more than 250,000 homes a year - in the 1970s - councils built more than 40 per cent of them. Councils were trusted to get on and build homes that their communities need, and they delivered.
“If we are to get back to building 300,000 homes a year, then the Government needs to ensure all areas of the country can borrow to invest in resuming their role as major builders of affordable homes.
“It is hugely disappointing that the Budget offered nothing to ease the financial crisis facing local services. Funding gaps and rising demand for our adult social care and children’s services are threatening the vital services which care for our elderly and disabled, protect children and support families. This is also having a huge knock-on effect on other services our communities rely on. Almost 60p in every £1 that people pay in council tax could have to be spent caring for children and adults by 2020, leaving increasingly less to fund other services, like fixing potholes, cleaning streets and running leisure centres and libraries.
“Adult social care services are essential to keeping people out of hospital and living independent, dignified lives at home and in the community and alleviating the pressure on the NHS. Simply investing more money into the NHS while not addressing the funding crisis in adult social care is not going to help our joint efforts to prevent people having to go into hospital in the first place.
“The money local government has to run services is running out fast and councils face an overall £5.8 billion funding gap in just two years. The Government needs to use the upcoming Local Government Finance Settlement to set out its plan for how it will fund local services both now and in the future. We remain clear that local government as a whole must be able to keep every penny of business rates collected to plug funding gaps while a fairer system of distributing funding between councils is needed.
“Only with fairer funding and greater freedom from central government to take decisions over vital services in their area can local government generate economic growth, build homes, strengthen communities, and protect vulnerable people in all parts of the country.”
NOTES TO EDITORS
The LGA, which represents more than 370 councils across England and Wales, will be responding in further detail to specific announcements throughout the day.