Securing the financial sustainability of councils and vital local services must be the top priority for the new government, the leader of local government in England will say today.
Lord Porter, chairman of the Local Government Association, will use his keynote address to more than 1,200 local government leaders, councillors and ministers at the LGA’s Annual Conference in Birmingham today to demand that councils are at the ‘front of the queue’ for new funding if ‘austerity is coming to an end’.
By 2020, local government in England will have lost 75 pence out of every £1 of core central-government funding that it had to spend in 2015.
Almost half of all councils will no longer receive any of this core funding by 2019/20.
Councils face an overall £5.8billion funding gap by 2020 and even if councils stopped filling in potholes, maintaining parks and open spaces, closed all children’s centres, libraries, museums, leisure centres, turned off every streetlight and shut all discretionary bus routes, they still would not have saved enough money to plug this gap by the end of the decade.
The LGA is therefore calling for local government to be allowed to keep all of the £26billion in business rates it collects locally each year and for council-tax referendum limits should be abolished – councils have strived to keep council tax low.
It should be for councils and their residents to decide how local services are paid for, not Whitehall.
Lord Porter said: “The money local government has to provide vital day-to-day local services is running out fast.
“There is also now huge uncertainty about how local services are going to be funded beyond 2020.
“Councils can no longer be expected to run our vital local services on a shoestring.”