County councils suffering cuts need ‘extra powers’ to transform services
Local authorities need council tax freedom to meet local needs, the County Councils Network (CCN) has stated.
Responding to yesterday’s local government settlement, which will see councils in England face an overall cut of 1.8% in their spending power next year, CCN’s chairman Cllr David Hodge added that even though the council tax threshold was not lowered in the long-term this must change.
In addition to this, Cllr Hodge said: “The demand led pressures on our services, from care for vulnerable older people to school places, must be addressed with service transformation.
“Longer term we need to free councils to achieve this transformation with the devolution of power and Whitehall budgets. We have a responsibility to meet the needs of our residents and we are ready for the extra powers to allow us to do so.”
During his speech yesterday, local government minister Kris Hopkins called on town halls to take up the offer of extra government funding to freeze council tax for a fifth successive year.
But even the leader of Conservative-held Buckinghamshire County Council, Cllr Martin Trent, stated that the current situation has reached a “tipping point”.
In response to the funding cuts, he said: “I think we’ve reached the tipping point ... where we can’t just eat away at our back office services any more. We are going to have to do things in terms of home-to-school transport, cutbacks in a whole range of areas that people are going to really start noticing now.
“We are going to have to make cuts of another £46m in the next three years, and those cuts are going to be felt by people.”
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