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Council leaders write to Brokenshire in plea for settlement cash to prevent ‘catastrophic collapse’

Nearly 80 council leaders have written to James Brokenshire demanding an emergency cash injection to prevent a “catastrophic collapse,” calling for the upcoming £1.3bn cuts to be scrapped “at an absolute minimum.”

Leaders from 76 Labour councils, including Manchester, Birmingham and Newcastle, have made the plea ahead of this week’s financial settlement for local government, calling for the government to use the settlement to end austerity.

In their letter, as reported by the Guardian, they warn that by 2020, local authorities will have lost 60p of every £1 of central government funding they received in 2010.

The letter said: “As leaders of councils representing millions of citizens, we are writing to make clear that you must use the settlement to truly end austerity in local government and immediately provide the funding we need to avoid catastrophic collapse in key council services.

“The most deprived areas of the country have been hit much harder than the richest areas – nine of the 10 most deprived councils in the country have seen cuts of almost three times the national average.

“After eight years of austerity, many councils have reached breaking point and council budgets are perilously close to collapse.”

The Labour councils said emergency funding was needed at the authorities facing the biggest cuts to their services, and “at an absolute minimum” the settlement must be used to cancel the planned £1.3bn cut to next year’s Revenue Support Grant.

The letter stated: “To blindly press on with further cuts at a time when local government is on the brink of collapse would be hugely irresponsible.”

Councils across the country have been hit hard by funding cuts and increasing demand on services such as social care, with many cutting hundreds of jobs and making severe cuts to public services.

Several face the threat of bankruptcy, with one council, Northamptonshire County Council, having to be effectively bailed out by the government after racking up a projected budget deficit of £70m and two section 114 notices.

A spokesperson from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government responded: “We’ll be confirming local government funding for the financial year 2019-20 soon.

“Already we’ve committed to providing councils with £90.7bn over the next two years to help them meet the needs of their residents.”

They said that as well as a real terms increase in local government funding, councils were also being given the power to retain the growth in business rates income.

The spokesperson added: “In the budget we announced more than £1bn in extra funding for local government to address pressures on their services.”

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Image credit - Victoria Jones/PA Wire/PA Images


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