William Eichler 11 November 2022

Council chiefs warn of impending cuts

Council chiefs warn of impending cuts image
Image: Semmick Photo/Shutterstock.com.

Council chiefs warn ‘everything is on the table’ when it comes to cuts as poll reveals only one in five of England’s county councils are confident of setting a balanced budget next year.

Inflationary pressures and rising demand means that local authorities are faced with £3.5bn of additional costs this year and next.

Councils are legally obliged to set a balanced budget which means without extra Government support, they will be forced to use their reserves or cut services if spending exceeds funding.

A new poll of the County Council Network’s (CCN) 36 member authorities found that only 22% of the 32 respondents were confident of preventing financial insolvency next year if there is no additional support in the upcoming Autumn Statement.

Just over 70% of councils said it was ‘likely or very likely’ they would tighten eligibility for adult social care services, and 56% said they would likely have to reduce reablement and community-based adult social care services.

In addition, 63% would scale back school transport services and 44% said it is ‘likely or very likely’ they would have to cut support packages to young people with special educational needs. Nearly half (45%) said they would have to reduce the number of children’s centres and youth services.

Almost two-thirds (65%) of respondents said it was ‘likely or very likely’ that they would pause or cancel some economic growth and major road projects as well as routine road maintenance, while 81% said it was ‘likely or very likely’ they would have to pause or cancel projects such as building new leisure centres and bus or train station improvements.

Nearly 80% said it was ‘likely or very likely’ they would have to scale back climate change action and around 75% of respondents said it was ‘likely or very likely’ they would cut some or all bus route subsidies.

Over half (56%) of councils also said they would likely reduce the number of libraries and (53%) household waste recycling centres or cut their opening hours.

Cllr Sam Corcoran, Labour vice-chairman of the CCN and leader of Cheshire East Council, said: ‘The next two years are shaping up to be some of the most challenging for councils in recent memory. After a decade of austerity and with inflation soaring, if the Chancellor does not spare councils from further cuts and provide more funding for local authorities, everything is on the table when considering which vital services to cut.’

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