Ann McGauran 06 February 2019

Government in 'denial' over councils' finances, warn MPs

Marsham Street has ‘an unacceptable lack of ambition’ for local government –  with no aspiration for improving finances beyond merely ‘coping’, according to a scathing Public Accounts Committee (PAC) report.

The report on local government spending said It was  ‘not acceptable’ that the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) ‘repeatedly states that the sector as a whole is sustainable but refuses to provide evidence about how it has reached these conclusions’.

It called on the department to detail the steps it will take in the medium-term to ‘move the sector to a stronger financial position’ without simply relying on this year’s Spending Review and a move to 75% business rates retention.

The PAC also said Government’s financial support for councils is characterised by ‘one-off, short-term initiatives, which do not provide value for money - rather than a meaningful long-term plan for the sector’.

It called on the MHLG to work with councils to collect and analyse the impact both on value for money and on service users of providing funding on a one-off basis late in the budgetary cycle rather than through long-term funding arrangements.

PAC chair Meg Hilllier said: ‘The Government is in denial about the perilous state of local finances. It insists the sector is sustainable yet is unwilling or unable to back up this claim.

‘Government needs to get real, listen fully to the concerns of local government and take a hard look at the real impact funding reductions have on local services.’

Chair of the LGA’s resources board Cllr Richard Watts said that the Spending Review would be ‘make or break for vital local services and securing the financial sustainability of councils must be the top priority’.

He said: 'We agree with the Committee that the financial sustainability of local government cannot be defined by the ability of councils to just provide statutory duties.'

Last night in the Commons MPs approved the final local government finance settlement for 2019/20.

SIGN UP
For your free daily news bulletin
Highways jobs

Interim Head of Fostering

Tile Hill
Negotiable day rate
We are working with a local authority client in London who is looking for an Interim Head of Fostering, the local authority was last inspected as “... London (Central), London (Greater)
Recuriter: Tile Hill

Interim Head of Children in Care and Care Leavers

Tile Hill
Negotiable day rate
We are working with a local authority client in London who is looking for an Interim Head of Children in Care and Care Leavers, the local authority... London (Central), London (Greater)
Recuriter: Tile Hill

Head of Regeneration and Economy

City of York Council
£59,593 - £68,094
York is a wonderful place to live and work and it is quite rightly famous across the globe. York, North Yorkshire / Hybrid
Recuriter: City of York Council

Clinical Lead, North Essex

Essex County Council
Negotiable
Clinical Lead, North EssexPermanent, Full TimeUp to £57,869 per annumLocation
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Assistant Director Legal,&Governance/Monitoring Officer

Rochdale BC
£70,340 - £81,589
The Assistant Director role has breadth of responsibility beyond legal services incorporating Constitutional and Democratic Services Rochdale, Greater Manchester
Recuriter: Rochdale BC

Partner Content

Circular highways is a necessity not an aspiration – and it’s within our grasp

Shell is helping power the journey towards a circular paving industry with Shell Bitumen LT R, a new product for roads that uses plastics destined for landfill as part of the additives to make the bitumen.

Support from Effective Energy Group for Local Authorities to Deliver £430m Sustainable Warmth Funded Energy Efficiency Projects

Effective Energy Group is now offering its support to the 40 Local Authorities who have received a share of the £430m to deliver their projects on the ground by surveying properties and installing measures.

Pay.UK – the next step in Bacs’ evolution

Dougie Belmore explains how one of the main interfaces between you and Bacs is about to change.