Councils need more funding?

The government says council spending power will rise


James Brokenshire confirms funding package for local authorities in 2019 to 2020

Councils in England are to benefit from increased funding for core services including additional support for the most vulnerable in society, Communities Secretary Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP confirmed today (5 February 2019).

Local authorities' core spending power will rise in 2019 to 2020 by £1.3 billion, taking councils' funding to £46.4 billion.

This year's local government finance settlement includes extra funding for local services with a strong focus on greater support for adult and children's social care.

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Are councils continuing to feel the squeeze of austerity?

By Joe Harker

Labour have called the Tories "shameful" over their local government plans voted through the House of Commons, reports the Daily Mirror.

The plans passed by 298 votes to 240 and the government says the core spending power of councils will increase from £45.1 billion to £46.4 billion. They will also be able to increase council tax by three per cent without a referendum.

Shadow communities secretary Andrew Gwynne accused the government of framing a spending cut as an increase in budget. He argued that nine out of 10 areas that would experience the biggest cuts were Labour controlled.

The Claim:

The Public Accounts Committee accused the government of being "in denial" of the state of local government finances. They accused the government of having no long term plan over council budgets beyond "merely coping".

Core services only cover the essentials that a council must provide and many local authorities are so strapped for cash that this is all they can now provide.

Since 2010 council budgets have been cut and services offered have either been scrapped or reduced in an effort to save money.

Richard Watts, chair of the Local Government Association’s Resources Board, responded to the government's funding plans by saying said councils had been crippled by cash shortages.

The Counter Claim:

Communities secretary James Brokenshire MP announced the funding plans and claimed there would be a £1.3 billion increase in core spending power for councils.

He said the plans would deliver "a fairer, more self-sufficient and resilient future" that gave local authorities more control over how they raised money and an increase in their core spending power.

Core services are the basic and legally required functions of the council such as waste disposal and street cleaning. They are also required to provide public health services and a "comprehensive and effective" library service, though the latter is done "with available resources" and can allow for volunteer provided services.

Brokenshire insists councils will have more money to do the things they are legally required to do.

The Facts:

The BBC reports that the guaranteed government grant for local authorities will fall by around £1 billion at a time when the Local Government Association was complaining of a £3 billion gap in funding.

They also report that since the 2010-11 financial year spending per person on a range of areas has fallen. Child social care spending has risen by 12 per cent, but adult social care has fallen by 10 per cent, highways and transport spending has fallen by 40 per cent, environment spending is 20 per cent lower, cultural spending has been cut by 43 per cent, housing spending has fallen by 48 per cent and planning spending is 55 per cent lower.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies has calculated that council funding in 2019-20 will be £600 million lower in real terms than it was in 2015-16, resulting in a decrease in funding of 4.2 per cent per person with population growth taken into account.

They have also reported that poorer council areas will lose more money than richer areas. The government has found money to help deal with regular budget cuts but the IFS has found that in relative terms more funding was found for richer councils.

They estimate that since 2015-16 the least deprived councils have had a real terms funding increase of 0.3 per cent while the most deprived councils have had their budgets cut by 2.8 per cent.

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