"Councils take their responsibilities to maintain public buildings and the public spaces in their care extremely seriously. "
Responding to Locality’s report on the sale of public buildings, Cllr Richard Watts, Chair of the Local Government Association’s Resources Board, said:
“Councils take their responsibilities to maintain public buildings and the public spaces in their care extremely seriously. However, with local government facing an overall funding gap in excess of £5 billion a year by 2020, councils face difficult decisions about how best to use their resources to support local services, day-to-day activities and to protect public assets, such as buildings.
“Before a decision is made to sell an asset, the cost of selling it versus the benefit it could bring is considered carefully.
“Local councillors, elected by local people, understand the deep connection communities have with their public spaces and buildings. If we are to be able to maintain them and fund front-line services, the Government must address our funding shortfall of over £5 billion a year by 2020 as soon as possible. It is essential that the funding for local government, which has faced cuts of 40 per cent over the last eight years, is put on a sustainable footing, so we can support our communities through essential services and vital infrastructure.”
Notes to editors
- Councils will face £16 billion in funding reductions up to 2020, as detailed in the National Audit Office’s report of local authority finances.
- Under the rules councils have to follow for use of receipts from the sale of assets, the proceeds can broadly only be used to repay debt or invest in further capital assets. These rules have been temporarily relaxed by the Government and councils can currently also use them to invest in order to make revenue savings in the future.