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NALC welcomes IFS council funding report

 

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NALC has welcomed the recent publication of the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) report into council funding, agreeing with many of its findings.

 

The publication reveals that overall spending on local services by English principal councils fell by 21% between 2009-10 and 2017-18 – more than a fifth.  Spending on planning, development and housing services fell by more than 50% while cultural & leisure services and highways & transport also saw cuts of more than 40% over the same period.  Spending on adult social care fell by 5% between 2009–10 and 2017–18 – although the numbers receiving care fell by much more.

The total amount of funding available to principal councils looks like it will be barely enough to cover baseline statutory services, despite an end to overall budget cuts. This is because principal councils will soon only be able to rely on council tax and business rates income for the vast bulk of their funding – and revenues from these taxes are unlikely to keep pace with rising costs and demands.

NALC believes that this presents threats and opportunities to local councils.  On the one hand, as the only growing area of local government – there will be more opportunities for local councils to deliver discretionary services.  On the other hand – there will only be enough flexibility for local councils to deliver more discretionary services if the Government acts adequately and quickly enough to grant local councils a permanent exemption from coverage by referendum principles – and to end the toilet tax on public conveniences.

Cllr Sue Baxter, NALC chairman said, “NALC welcomes the publication of this useful report from IFS and we can’t argue with the findings from a broader local government perspective.  It is unsurprising but disappointing that principal council service spending has fallen by 21% in the last decade – all residents have suffered.  Whilst the future looks generally bright for local councils – we will continue to lobby the Government hard on referendum principles and the toilet tax so that our councils are in the best position possible to take on unfunded future discretionary services.”

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