The City Council’s lead councillor for finances has written to the Chancellor to outline the difficulties facing councils and the residents they serve and urging him to provide a fair funding settlement.
Portfolio Holder for Finance and Resources, Cllr Sam Webster, wrote to Rishi Sunak MP ahead of his Government Spending Review tomorrow (Wednesday 27th October). He points to sharp cuts in Government grant funding and the £271m of savings the council has had to make since 2010 while demand for vital services like children in care and social care for the elderly has grown steadily year on year.
He says that little additional funding for adult social care through the Government’s Health and Social Care Plan will mean the escalating costs of caring for vulnerable people will instead have to come from further increases in Council Tax and specifically the Government’s Adult Social Care Precept. Along with the National Insurance rise next April, this could mean people feel they are being charged twice, he says. Cllr Webster points to recent reports from the IFS, LGA, the Health and Social Care Committee and Age Concern which raise concerns about the precarious nature of council funding and the potential impact on the costs of council tax to local people.
In the letter, Cllr Webster writes: “Our city, like many others, is facing the impact of a range of factors including the ‘cost of Covid’ – much of which has not been reimbursed – rising fuel and energy prices, withdrawal of the Universal Credit uplift, rising inflation and the prospect of National Insurance increases in April which will impact on our local economy.
“We fully appreciate that, as we emerge from the pandemic, this will be a challenging Spending Review for you with many sectors staking their claim for additional funding. Local Government has however, borne the brunt of austerity over many years and, without a fair funding settlement now, we are rapidly reaching the point where hugely difficult decisions about the level of services we can provide will have to made.
“The only way that councils across the country can avoid reducing some services, increasing some charges and closing vital local facilities is if a reversal of the unprecedented funding cuts begins now with a fairer funding settlement.”