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Councils challenge government to plug £6bn gap by 2019-20

Councils have today called on the government to plug its funding gap of £5.8bn by 2019-20 by providing funding to keep services which are “at tipping point.”

In its submission for the Autumn Budget, the LGA argued that the government would urgently need to reverse 10 years’ worth of underfunding that had seen core central government funding reduce by £16bn to give authorities the boost they needed to keep vital services open.

The organisation highlighted a number of areas as particularly important, including social care which is facing an immediate deficit of £1.3bn, as well as child services, where 170,000 children were subject to enquiries in 2015-16.

It also warned that in the last six years, there had been a 44% increase in the number of homeless households needing accommodation and a 102% increase in rough sleeping.

“At a time of uncertainty, councils can support the nation, their local communities and the government in its ambitions for us to take our place in the world,” the report read.

“The Budget is an ideal opportunity for the government to announce key policies, such as providing a sustainable long term financial framework for councils to invest in new homes that will help us meet the needs of the nation.

“Alongside fiscal devolution and the devolution of powers to local areas, there is also a clear need to reform public services,” it continued. “Councillors and councils are leaders of their places and know their areas and their residents’ needs. As the most trusted part of the public sector, local government at its best provides strong leadership that ensures the country has safe and thriving communities.”

The report also concluded that a lack of proper funding will have “serious consequences” for the communities councils serve.  

“But with the right funding and powers, local government can play a vital role in supporting central government to deliver its ambitions for everyone in our country,” it argued.

The LGA set out a number of key proposals for the government to consider. It made the bold recommendation of asking for the immediate £1.3bn pressure on social care to be addressed as soon as possible by government, although similar requests ahead of this year’s Spring Budget were not fully taken up by Whitehall.

It also demanded that other costs, such as essential refurbishing of council-owned tower blocks to reduce fire risk, to be met by parliament in full.

Top Image: Mario Guti

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