Laura Sharman 06 July 2016

Councils’ spending hits new low

Councils’ spending in England will fall by 1% in 2016-17 (£0.9bn) according to official figures, raising concerns over the financial resilience of local authorities.

The figures, published by the Department for Communities and Local Government and the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy, show cultural services will see the biggest reduction with 5.8% cuts planned.

Education budgets will fall by 2.2% - mainly due to the number of schools converting to academies - with fire and rescue services seeing reduction of 1.3%.

The figures also show £17.3bn of the £21bn held in reserves by councils has been earmarked for specific purposes.

‘Councils have taken a battering and the outlook only gets worse,’ said Rob Whiteman, CEO of CIPFA.

He added: ‘These figures demonstrate the extent to which councils are suffering, without even taking into account the fiscal consequences of leaving the EU. Given that a Brexit may only compound the pressures, it is essential that local authorities undertake a thorough assessment of their financial resilience.’

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