Services at risk due to £8 billion black hole

The Local Government Association is launching a new campaign to influence the forthcoming Spending Review, warning of a £8 billion funding black hole by 2025, which will swallow up popular council services.

Warning about the growing risk to vital local services if the government does not take action to secure the financial sustainability of councils, the LGA said that, with the right funding and powers, councils can continue to lead their local areas, improve residents’ lives, reduce demand for public services and save money for the taxpayer.

However, with councils having lost almost 60p out of every £1 the government had provided for services, ongoing under-investment will see communities face the further loss of leisure and cultural facilities, fewer bus services, and unkempt parks and green spaces. Facing an overall funding gap of £8 billion by 2025, more councils are struggling to balance their books, facing overspends and having to make in-year budget cuts.

The LGA has produced a list of seven popular discretionary services that councils might need to consider reducing in order to meet their statutory duties: rural and post-16 school bus services; council tax support; issuing penalty notices for fly-tipping and graffiti; Trading Standards budgets; school crossing patrols; museums and galleries; and the management and improvement of parks and green spaces.

Lord Porter, chairman of the LGA, said: “The money local government has to provide vital services is running out fast and huge uncertainty remains about how councils will pay for services into the next decade and beyond. If the government fails to adequately fund local government then it will be our local communities and economies who will suffer the consequences. It will be those who rely on vital adult social care to live independent lives, rural bus routes to get out and about, council tax support to ease financial burdens and those who value clean streets, green spaces and roads fit for the purpose.

“The Spending Review will be make or break for vital local services and securing the financial sustainability of councils must be the top priority. This is the only way to ensure councils can meet their legal duties to provide dignified care for our elderly and disabled, protect children, and prevent and reduce homelessness and protect the wide-range of other valued local services which also make such a positive difference to communities and people’s lives.”

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