A Labour councillor has called on the Chancellor to provide a better deal for cash-strapped councils.
Cllr Sue Woodward, leader of the opposition group at Lichfield District Council, has penned a letter to Jeremy Hunt ahead of the upcoming Autumn Statement.
She said that a continual reduction in funding for local authorities since 2010 had left many public services struggling to survive.
The cross-party Local Government Association and the District Councils Network, of which Cllr Woodward is an executive board member, have warned that a combination of high inflation, rising homelessness, and the increased cost of delivering services mean councils will be facing a £4billion funding gap by March 2025.
Cllr Woodward said:
“Our district deserves a better deal. Government funding cuts have been severely impacted areas like ours.
“The Conservative government has cut funding to our District by a massive 72% in real terms since 2010,
“Unfunded pressures are pushing council finances to the brink. With family finances recovering from the Conservative government’s disastrous decisions that crashed our economy, we can not continue to rely on council tax bills to cover the shortfall, even if that were allowed.
“The government should take responsibility for funding local services which ae so important to residents.
“The Chancellor must use the Autumn Statement to deliver the better deal across the district. We deserve no less.
“If he cannot do that, the Conservatives should call a General Election and give the country the chance to vote in a new government that has a plan to give Lichfield District its future back.”Cllr Sue Woodward, Lichfield District Council
Cllr Woodward’s letter in full:
Dear Chancellor of the Exchequer,
I am writing to you ahead of the Autumn Statement that you are preparing to deliver later this month, to set out Lichfield District Council’s current budget pressures, and ask you to take urgent action to preserve the vital public services local people rely on by delivering a fair deal for the communities across our District.
The Conservative government has cut funding to our area by 72% in real terms since 2010. Councils across the country, and of all political colours, are united in saying that local government funding is not sustainable. The cross-party Local Government Association has warned that councils in England will face a £4 billion budget shortfall by March 2025.
Our own council is currently subject to a range of funding pressures that require government support. These include the following:
- Inflation is a major factor which has not been properly accounted for in our Government funding. Inflation is still at a much higher level than anticipated and has added significant costs to our council.
- Homelessness costs remain a constant pressure in the face of the cost-of-living crisis and the ongoing freeze to Local Housing Allowance.
- Government migration policy, including the rapid closure of asylum hotels, is leaving councils to pick up the costs.
- Loss of preventative services promoting health and wellbeing are causing extra pressures for health and social care services.
These funding pressures are largely a direct result of government policy, including the disastrous mini-budget last year which crashed the economy. Your government should bear the responsibility of meeting them, rather than once again forcing councils to increase council tax bills. This is simply not sustainable during a cost of living crisis.
Without immediate action councils will need to make increasingly difficult decisions about services we will have to reduce or stop all together. You have an opportunity in the Autumn Statement to deliver a fair deal for councils to protect vital public services and to avoid adding to the cost of living crisis that your government caused when you crashed the economy. We urge you to take it.
Yours sincerely,Cllr Sue Woodward’s letter to Jeremy Hunt
Cllr Susan Woodward