England’s largest authorities are warning that the basic ‘core offer’ of local services could become the norm unless the Government provides councils with additional resources.
The County Councils Network (CCN) has said county councils are facing a funding shortfall of £3.2bn over the next two years which means they will have to cut services to a minimum.
Citing the recent financial difficulties of Northamptonshire and East Sussex county councils, CCN warned that a combination of funding reductions, rising demand for services and ‘unfair funding’ means county authorities are soon going to struggle to offer a wide range of services.
‘Shire counties face a triple whammy of funding reductions, rising demand for services and are the lowest funded type of authority,’ said Cllr Paul Carter, CCN chairman & leader of Kent County Council.
‘Costs outside of our control and demand for services, such growing elderly populations, mean our councils face funding pressures of £3.2bn over the next two years.
‘This is compounded by the fact our councils receive 62% less funding per head compared to London. Counties are shouldering a disproportionate burden and the elastic is close to breaking.’
‘We will work hard to deliver the savings required this year, but the scope for making deliverable savings has dramatically reduced and decisions for next year will be truly unpalatable if we are to fulfil our statutory duties,’ Cllr Carter continued.
‘High performing authorities such as East Sussex won’t be the last to set out a “Core offer”, providing little more than statutory services, without additional help.
‘It is clear that unless Government finds a long-term solution to council funding and a fairer distribution of resources between authorities, other well managed county councils could find themselves unable to balance the books.’