The Local Government Association responds to the Autumn Statement.
Responding to today’s Autumn Statement, Cllr Shaun Davies, Chair of the Local Government Association, said:
“The evidence of the financial strain on councils has been growing and it is hugely disappointing that today's Autumn Statement has failed to provide funding needed to protect the services the people in our communities rely on every day.
“We are pleased government has acted on our call to unfreeze Local Housing Allowance rates, which is a positive step in helping to support the most vulnerable in our society afford rising rents. It is also good that the Government has committed to ensuring councils will be able to set planning fees to cover the full cost of processing some major applications which will mean local taxpayers no longer have to foot the bill.
“Supporting businesses, and easing the cost of living for households is important, but not if our public services continue to be chronically underfunded and unable to be there to support people when they need them. Adult social care remains in a precarious position, record numbers of households are in temporary accommodation and there are now more than 80,000 looked after children in England. The lack of additional funding in today’s announcement risks councils' ability to meet this spiralling demand, provide critical care and support a healthy population with access to housing, training and jobs.
“Councils have worked hard to find efficiencies and reduce costs, but the easy savings have long since gone. It is wrong that our residents now face further cuts to services as well as the prospect of council tax rises next year, with councils having the difficult choice about raising bills to bring in desperately needed funding.
“Devolution gives local leaders greater freedom to take decisions closest to the people they represent. Where they are supported by all councils it is good to see new devolution deals announced today, including to those parts of the country outside cities. This needs to signal a genuine ‘local first’ approach to policy making across Whitehall, to ensure as many communities as possible benefit from devolution, including the removal of burdensome negotiations and top-down imposition of new structures.
“National economic growth can ultimately only be achieved if every local economy is firing on all cylinders. Only with the right powers and adequate long-term funding which allows councils to plan properly, can we play a lead role in unlocking the labour market, building new affordable homes, creating jobs, plugging skills gaps and delivering on other key government priorities.”