Austin Macauley 20 October 2015

Spending review could floor local services, warns LGA

Council leaders have warned that Government plans for further cuts could deliver a £10.5bn ‘knock-out blow’ to local services.

With non-protected Government departments having been asked to find savings of between 25% and 40% ahead of the spending review, the Local Government Association (LGA) has analysed the implications.

It found that a 40% real terms cut would equate to £8.4bn being taken away from central Government funding and £2.1bn from council budgets.

Overall, it would mean a 64% cut to local government grant funding between 2010 and 2020. Lord Porter, LGA chairman, said: ‘Councils are under no illusions about the challenge that lies ahead. We know we face almost £10bn in cost pressures by 2020 even before the prospect of further challenging funding reductions over the next four years.

‘What is clear is that another 40% real terms reduction to local government grant funding on top of these cannot be an option on November 25.

‘It is a false economy to reduce funding to local government while attempting to prop up other departments.

‘Providing councils with fairer funding is the only way to avoid the unintended consequence of other parts of the public sector, such as the NHS, being left to pick up the financial pieces. When making its spending decisions government must consider the huge pressure funding reductions to councils would have not just on vital local services but on the public sector more widely.’

He warned that while councils had ‘worked tirelessly’ to minimise the impact of cutbacks on residents, ‘the resilience of local government services cannot be stretched much further’.

He added: ‘Closing every children's centre in England would save £700m but this would only be enough to plug the funding gap facing adult social care for one year. Councils could stop fixing the two million potholes they fill each year to save £600m by 2020, but this would still not be enough to keep providing free bus travel to elderly and disabled residents.

‘These are the difficult decisions councils will be forced to face. Many of the things people take for granted, like clean and well-lit streets, maintained parks and access to leisure centres, will become a thing of the past as a result.’

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