William Eichler 08 September 2017

Councillor hits out at Javid’s ‘prevarication’ on council finances

A Basildon councillor has waited over two months for a response from Sajid Javid to a letter he wrote concerning the future of council finances.

Cllr Gavin Callaghan, Basildon Council’s chairman of policy and resources committee, wrote to the secretary of state 10 weeks ago to ask for an early statement on the Government’s plans to give councils greater control over their income.

The councillor sent the letter following the Queen’s Speech that failed to set out any plans to legislate for the move to 100% business rates retention.

The council chased a reply to the letter on 16 August but says they have heard nothing.

‘We have a promise to our residents to respond to letters within 10 working days. The secretary of state has had 10 weeks to reply and I am still waiting,’ said Cllr Callaghan.

Cllr Callaghan said Basildon required ‘certainty now, not more prevarication’ on the issue of council finances.

‘Closing a budget gap that currently stands at £4.1m is challenging enough without the added uncertainty that gap could grow if Government u-turns on its local government finance settlement pledge,’ he said.

‘Our ability to provide the services our communities need is seriously threatened by this lack of action.’

‘If the Secretary of State has more to say that can offer reassurance that councils, the services they provide and the communities we provide them to, really do matter to him, then perhaps he can do me the courtesy of telling me,’ he added.

The department for communities and local government (DCLG) has been approached for a response.

A lack of clarity on 100% business rates retention is fuelling growing concerns as resources get ever tighter.

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