Council funding freeze ‘may mean further cuts to essential services’

The Local Government Association – an umbrella body representing councils – has joined voices across local government in issuing a warning to government after the latest funding settlement offered no additional money for authorities in 2017/18.

Even the Tories’ Gary Porter, head of the LGA, has now shared his “huge disappointment” about the decision not to increase funding, warning that while councils would impose tax rises, the money would not be enough to prevent services, including social care, from being hit.

Issuing a statement this week Porter said: “Social care faces a funding gap of £2.6bn by 2020… It cannot be left to council taxpayers alone to try and fix this”.

Councils, the NHS, charities and care providers are increasingly united around the need for new government funding for social care. By continuing to ignore the warnings, social care remains in crisis and councils and the NHS continue to be pushed to the financial brink.

Concerns follow the government’s publication of the final Local Government Settlement on Monday without any notification to the media.

Cllr Stephen Morgan, Portsmouth’s Labour Leader, has been calling on the government to provide a fairer deal for local government and better deal for Portsmouth.

In the city’s budget debate in the council chamber last week he said:

“We know that areas with greater needs or a low council tax base have been consistently hit harder by government, and that residents here have suffered more as a result.

Our evidence also shows there will be no let-up in the government’s determination to punish our city.

The government’s funding distribution continues to penalise Portsmouth, and that as far as the government is concerned, we are on our own. Portsmouth people deserve better”.

Predictions suggest councils across the country will face an overall £5.8 billion funding gap by 2020.

This will push councils perilously close to the financial edge over the next few years and force them to consider further reductions to the local services communities rely on to plug growing funding gaps.

Cllr Morgan added:

“Our role must be to oppose this government’s approach while continuing to grow the city and provide services to the public that we can be proud of.

We must be at the forefront of what local government is doing, and can achieve, in the most challenging of circumstances.

Everyone in this city should know my group is doing everything it can to help people get through the difficult times, and ensure this city has the foundations it needs to build a fairer future”.