Poor outlook for council spending, research cautions

According to a new report by APSE and the New Policy Institute (NPI), councils could be unable to fund services such as parks, highways and refuse collection by 2020.

The report, entitled 'Sustainable local government finance and liveable local areas: Can we survive to 2020?’ outlined that by 2020, local government spending will be at its lowest level since 1948. It also found that council tax will account for at least half of funds received by councils in England by this time.

In shire counties, this figure is predicted to increase to 75 per cent, and are expected to be almost entirely reliant on council tax and business rates to fund services.

The report cautioned that allowing liveability and public realm stories to decline through a lack of funding could force ancillary care demands at a neighbourhood level. It also warned that new inequalities could become apparent as different authorities grow their business rate income at varying strength.

Paul O’Brien, chief executive of APSE, commented: “With huge funding pressures on local councils this report highlights the hidden costs of decline in council finances. Whilst new funding for social care is of course welcome, the overall picture for local council finances remains grim.

“Without adequate funding we risk abandoning liveability services like parks, refuse and recycling, highways, and street lighting to long term decline.”

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