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Opinion: it's time to put the funding crisis facing our local services on centre stage

"Between 2010 and 2020, councils will have lost 60p out of every £1 the Government had provided for services. Combined with huge increases in demand for services, such as adult and children’s social care and homelessness support, councils in England face an almost £4 billion black hole in 2019/20."


Councils change lives for the better. They have strained every sinew to support and protect local communities from the impact of years of austerity. They have embraced efficiency and innovation in a way that is not being replicated anywhere else in the public sector.

And so surely it’s not unreasonable to say, enough is enough. Between 2010 and 2020, councils will have lost 60p out of every £1 the Government had provided for services. Combined with huge increases in demand for services, such as adult and children’s social care and homelessness support, councils in England face an almost £4 billion black hole in 2019/20.

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Whilst the solutions to this funding crisis that each political party puts forward may differ, conference season must be a place where the big issues facing our communities are tackled. Brexit is important but if the Conservative conference does not also put the funding crisis facing our local services on centre stage then it will have been a waste of time.

More and more councils are struggling to balance their books, facing overspends and having to make in-year budget cuts. This is damaging the ability of councils to provide dignified care for our elderly and disabled, protect children, boost economic growth, fill potholes, build homes and much more.

If the Government fails to adequately fund local government there is a real risk to the future financial viability of some services and councils. Many local authorities will reach the point where they only have the funds to provide statutory responsibilities and it will be our local communities and economies who will suffer the consequences.

Our submission for this year’s Autumn Budget sets out how investment in local services, and councils’ prevention and early intervention work, can ensure they can continue to make a positive difference to their residents’ lives. It will also help reduce pressures on the rest of the public sector, save money for the public purse and contribute to the wider prosperity and wellbeing of the nation.

Lord Porter is Chairman of the Local Government Association