Councils Can: LGA launches Spending Review campaign

Lord Porter, chairman of the Local Government Association, outlines his organisation’s campaign to make sure local government tops to government’s list for this year’s Spending Review.

Our #CouncilsCan campaign to influence this year’s Spending Review is well underway and gathering momentum. The money local government has to maintain the services our communities rely on is running out fast, and the Spending Review will be make or break for councils.

Councils have experienced disproportionately large reductions in government funding over this decade, in comparison to the rest of the public sector. Councils will have lost almost 60p out of every £1 the government had provided for services and face an overall funding gap of £8bn by 2025.

And this is just to stand still and incorporate additional demand, and does not even take into account important improvements in local services and councils’ prevention and early intervention work.

We kicked off our #CouncilsCan campaign by highlighting the threat to popular – but non-statutory – services if this funding gap is not addressed.

We have warned that our communities may lose leisure and cultural facilities and subsidised bus services, and see fly-tippers go unpunished, unless government invests in local services. But the reality is that even if we scale back all our discretionary services, we will not be able to fill the funding gap facing children’s services, adult social care, and homelessness, nor meet rising demand for these statutory services.

We have highlighted how successful the transfer of public health to councils has been, with most outcomes as good as or better than when the NHS ran everything – despite cuts to local government public health grants.

We’ve also flagged up how billions of pounds of housing benefit could have been saved if successive governments had helped us build more social housing over the last 10 years. The construction work would have helped generate economic growth, and tenants would have had more cash in their pockets.

But our campaign isn’t just about asking for more money – it’s more positive than that. We know that with sustainable 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.

Councils are a good investment. We have continued to deliver vital, quality local services despite the unprecedented loss of funding because we have been efficient and innovative.

It’s about highlighting how councils can achieve the best for their communities with the right powers and investment. In many cases councils have already got proven track records of how they have managed to keep successful local services running through improvement and innovation despite a lack of funding.

However, many efficiencies and savings have now been made and the right powers and funding are needed for councils to make a positive difference to residents’ lives and continue to reduce pressures on the rest of the public sector.

Without urgent changes, it is the people who rely on and value council services that will suffer. Councils make our communities places we want to live in and people rightly look to their council to support them and their family and to be at the heart of their community. This campaign wants at put the issues councils are facing to the top of the government’s agenda.

It is crucial that the government addresses the issues councils are facing in the upcoming Spending Review. It’s now time to invest in our people and our places.



Tw: #CouncilsCan | @LGAcomms



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