Most councils plan on increasing council tax this year while slashing frontline services due to Government cuts, survey reveals.
The 2019 State of Local Government Finance survey found that more than half (53%) of the 158 councils who responded are eating into their reserves just to stay afloat.
Published by the Local Government Information Unit (LGiU) and The MJ, the survey discovered that nearly half were planning on cuts to services, and a quarter said planned cuts would be noticed by the public.
Four out of five (81%) local authorities are investing in commercial developments, but despite this eight in 10 senior council decision makers believe the current system for council funding is unsustainable.
The financial situation is so bad for one in 20 councils (22 councils in England) that they are concerned they won’t be able to deliver the legal minimum service for residents.
‘With more cuts ahead, local councils have no option but to take drastic measures to make ends meet,’ said chief executive of the LGiU, Dr Jonathan Carr-West.
‘In the future care for the elderly and vulnerable children could be funded from shopping centre investments and car parks, which carries significant risk if the economy tanks.
‘Now more than ever we need a thriving, resilient local government sector to weather the storm of national uncertainty, but years of chronic under-funding has left local government on life support.’
The editor of The MJ, Heather Jameson, commented: ‘After nearly a decade of slashing local government funding councils have been hollowed out to nothing.
‘People will be left paying more council tax and seeing less and less for their money. They deserve better.
‘If central Government is serious about tackling the housing crisis and rebuilding our communities after Brexit, they will need to rethink local government funding - fast.’
For analysis of the survey results visit The MJ (£).