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SCC PREDICTS A FUNDING DEFICIT AS UK LOCAL SERVICES FACE FURTHER £1.3BN GOVERNMENT FUNDING CUT IN 2019/20

October 12, 2018 1:00 PM

SCC predicts financial shortfall with further cuts to come

Far from an end to austerity as our Prime Minister claims, local authorities are facing yet more stringent cuts to funding putting vital services at real risk Budget Cuts

Suffolk County Council admitted that it is not managing to control spending against the budget agreed by councillors in February 2018. Projections show the council will overspend by £8.6 million this financial year unless it is successful in reducing costs and making savings between now and 31 March 2019. This would mean that the council would have to dip into its reserves to balance the books.

Rising demand for services and increased costs in Children and Young People's Services account for almost £5 million of the projected overspend. This includes services for looked-after children, specialist social care for children and home-to-school transport. It is hard to see how any further savings can be made in statutory responsibilities.

The Local Government Association has revealed that government grant funding for local services will be cut by a further £1.3 billion (36 per cent) in 2019/20 despite many councils already struggling to balance their books, facing overspends and having to make in-year budget cuts,

Almost half of all councils - 168 councils - will no longer receive any this Revenue Support Grant funding next year.

Between 2010 and 2020, councils will have lost 60p out of every £1 the Government had provided for services. Councils have gone to great lengths to ensure the savings they have been forced to make have as little impact as possible on the quality of services provided to their residents. They have embraced efficiency and innovation in a way that is not being replicated anywhere else in the public sector.

However, local government leaders warn the financial viability of some councils is now under threat and many others are increasingly unable to provide dignified care for our elderly and disabled, protect children, boost economic growth, fill potholes, build homes and much more.

Funding pressures and rising demand for services, such as adult and children's social care and homelessness support, will leave local services in England facing a £3.9 billion funding black hole next year.

The LGA is calling on the Chancellor to use the Autumn Budget to tackle the immediate funding crisis for local government in 2019/20, as well as setting the scene for the forthcoming Spending Review to deliver a sustainable funding settlement for local government.

As part of its Autumn Budget submission, the LGA has mapped the likely impact of a further year of central government funding cuts and growing demand on the local services provided by an average upper-tier council.

The "Anycouncil" modelling shows residents living in a council area which sits in the mid-range in relation to current funding, levels of deprivation and outlook for economic growth should expect to see key local services further dramatically reduced in 2019/20. Millions of residents are living in areas where their council will have to consider similar measures.

Cllr Howard Sykes, LGA Liberal Democrat Group Leader, said:

"Unprecedented funding pressures and demand for adult and children's social care and homelessness services is pushing councils to the limit. As a result, less money is being spent on the other services that keep our communities running such as libraries, local roads, early intervention and local welfare support.

"Losing a further £1.3 billion of central government funding at this time is going to tip many councils over the edge. 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 consequence".

"In his Spring Statement in March, the Chancellor said he would invest in public services if public finances improve as recent forecasts have suggested. It is therefore vital that the Government addresses the growing funding gaps facing councils in 2019/20 in the Autumn Budget".

Sources: County Councillor Caroline Page Blog

ALDC/LGA

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