Laura Sharman 26 November 2020

Spending Review: 'Risk all sits on local government'

The Spending Review failed to tackle key issues such as reforms to local government funding, sector experts have warned.

The Local Government Information Unit (LGiU) said the 4.5% increase in spending power for local government would come predominantly from council tax increases and the social care precept.

‘The political and economic risk all sits on local government,’ said Jonathan Carr-West, chief executive of LGIU. ‘There is no gift from the centre.’

The Local Government Association (LGA) also warned that any increase in council tax would place a ‘significant’ burden on households.

Cllr James Jamieson, chairman of the LGA, said: ‘Council tax rises – particularly the adult social care precept – have never been the answer to the long-term pressures faced by councils, particularly in social care, raising different amounts of money in different areas, unrelated to need. It is not the long-term solution which is desperately needed.

’We have warned about record numbers already claiming a discount on their council tax due to the pandemic and are pleased the Government will provide funding to help councils provide vital support for those on low incomes who may struggle to pay.’

Karen Sanderson, director of public financial management at CIPFA, said: ‘While the statement was flush with cash in some areas, others were considerably lacking. A 4.5% increase in spending power for local authorities will be absorbed by increased social care costs off the back of the pandemic, and higher costs from the rise to the national minimum wage.

’This announcement also did nothing to address key structural issues, including reform to local government funding and social care.’

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