Councils could reach financial tipping point, APSE warns

The Association for Public Service Excellence (APSE) has warned that planned cuts to the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) budget will mean councils losing out and only being able to provide basic services. 

Paul O’Brien, APSE chief executive, warned: “This would be a catastrophic mistake for councils and their communities. It is often the non-statutory services, in our public realm, which residents really value and, which in the long-term, contribute to health, participation in sport and help with initiatives to tackle anti-social behaviour.

“I am disappointed that the chancellor has not recognised the spend to save opportunities that local councils present. For example whilst extra funding on housing is always to be welcomed not a thin dime appears to be heading towards local councils when we are in dire need of more council homes."

The Local Government Association (LGA) has also commented on the cuts, warning that the Spending Review represents a 24 per cent reduction in real terms to the local government grant, including the £1.5 billion increase to the Better Care Fund. 

Lord Porter, chairman of the LGA, said: “The Spending Review has handed down a difficult £4.1 billion funding cut over this Spending Review period for our residents and comes on top of almost £10 billion in further demand-led cost pressures facing councils by the end of the decade. The consequences for our local communities who will suffer as a result should not be underestimated.

“Even if councils stopped filling in potholes, maintaining parks, closed all children’s centres, libraries, museums, leisure centres and turned off every street light they will not have saved enough money to plug the financial black hole they face by 2020.

Councillor Paul Carter, chairman of the County Councils Network (CCN), said he was expecting a ‘tough’ final settlement for local government. He said: “There are clearly further substantial reductions in core grants and counties will have to continue to make significant savings over the coming period.

“As ever, the devil will be in the detail and the level of reductions for counties will only be realised during the local government settlement.”