William Eichler 04 October 2022

Councils warn of £2.5bn ‘threat’ to services

Councils warn of £2.5bn ‘threat’ to services image
Image: EtiAmmos/Shutterstock.com

Two thirds of surveyed councils said they either faced a ‘threat’ to or ‘extreme pressure’ on key service delivery over the next financial year, a poll has revealed.

Survey data published by the Special Interest Group of Municipal Authorities (SIGOMA) has revealed the extent of the threat of inflationary pressures to frontline services and regeneration projects.

The poll of 30 representative councils found that 66% said they either faced a ‘threat’ or ‘extreme pressure’ to key service delivery in the next financial year.

Twenty-seven percent said that they faced pressure across services or a reduction on services while just 7% said that the pressures were manageable using reserves and some efficiencies.

SIGOMA members predicted an average inflationary pressure of £21.4m in the next financial year (2023/24). This would amount to £1.006bn across the SIGOMA network.

For 2024-25, they predicted a slightly higher average pressure of £23.8m – £1.119bn across the network of 47 councils.

The overall pressure for members in the period covered by the survey is £2.5bn – £17.7m per council, per year.

Responding to the survey results, SIGOMA chair Cllr Sir Stephen Houghton, said: ‘Our survey reveals that the inflationary pressure on our members is significant and has deteriorated even further since our previous survey earlier this year. Our members are telling us that the threat to the key services that residents rely on is very real, while many regeneration projects, central to “levelling up”, are already being curtailed if not cancelled outright.

‘The announcement that there will not be a new spending review that recognises the impact of inflation on the cost of services is very concerning. The talk of further cuts to local government is extremely worrying – we know that it is the poorest in our communities that rely most on our services.’

He continued: ‘Our members predict that inflationary pressure will wipe more than £1bn off our budgets in real terms in each of the next two years – this following a decade of austerity and the COVID pandemic, both of which hit the most deprived areas hardest.

‘There are no meaningful “efficiencies” left and our preventative services have been cut to the bone. To stop a winter of extremely difficult decisions the Government needs to act now and provide urgent support to the sector.’

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