Funding black hole to treble in next four years

The County Councils Network (CCN) has warned that the unsustainable funding black hole facing county authorities will treble to £2.54 billion over the next four years.

The group is urging the government to use the Autumn Budget to provide two-year investment into the services facing the biggest pressures.

As part of its analysis, the CCN reveal that, on average, each county will face an additional average funding gap of £70 million by 2021, on top of planned service reductions. If this continues, very ‘difficult, painful and unpopular decisions’ will have to be made.

The CCN’s budget submission calls for removing the referendum limit on council tax levels to limit further inequality in council tax levels, and for the Treasury to provide the Department for Communities and Local Government with the resource to extend Transition Grants until 2021.

Paul Carter, CCN chairman said: “Counties have had the greatest financial challenges in the last five years and this evidence adds to the case. We are reaching a point where we are have to consider difficult, painful and unpopular decisions next year to deliver balanced budgets, which will reduce and remove frontline services highly valued by our residents.

“The government has said it is in listening mode, and I and my fellow county leaders will be asking Ministers across government that we need additional help and support in this Budget or we will all face some very severe consequences in the future. The situation can’t go on. CCN’s submission sets out a range of policies to help quell the inevitable impact of staring a funding black hole of £2.54 billionn in the face. It also contains ambitious proposals to kick-start county devolution, calling on the government to be bold and endorse counties as strategic authorities, giving us the powers to be the masters of our own economic destinies.”