William Eichler 27 October 2022

Council chiefs warn against ‘devastating’ cuts

Council chiefs warn against ‘devastating’ cuts  image
Image: Becky Stares/Shutterstock.com.

Further cuts to local government funding will mean that councils will only be able to offer the ‘bare minimum’ of local services, county council leaders have warned the Treasury.

The County Councils Network (CCN) has written to the new Chancellor warning him of the ‘devastating’ impact that another round of budget cuts will have on frontline services, particularly when combined with the current inflationary pressures.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt is telling all Government departments to look for further savings. The CCN, however, said that further cuts to local authority budgets after more than a decade of funding reductions will be ‘worse than austerity’.

County authorities in England are currently facing £3.5bn in inflationary and demand costs this year and next, which is more than double the expected rise, according to a CCN analysis. Rising costs of delivering day to day services due to inflation make up £2.86bn of this figure, while projected rises in demand for these services are set to add £647m to costs

In his letter to the Chancellor, Cllr Tim Oliver, CCN chairman and leader of Surrey County Council warned that the Treasury should be under ‘no illusions on what the impact will be on local services’.

‘Between 2010 and 2018 local government took the brunt of austerity, with councils seeing their budgets halved. A return to this has set off alarm bells for council leaders, who year after year delivered savings to reduce the national deficit,’ said Cllr Oliver.

‘Considering inflation and demand is set to add £3.5bn to our costs, this would be worse than the period of austerity and devastating for local services. We will be left with unpalatable decisions, with many likely to have to resort to a very basic ‘core offer’ level of services despite this ultimately being a false economy and adversely hitting the most vulnerable in our society.

‘I know the new Chancellor faces some very difficult decisions, but and our message is unambiguous: with inflation causing multi-billion black holes in our budgets, we need more help, not less.’

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