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Give us cash to pave way for long-term finance reform, councils say

London Councils has called for local services to be properly funded in order to “pave the way” for long-term finance reform ahead of next week’s Autumn Budget.

By 2020 it is expected that London boroughs will have suffered a 63% real-terms cut in funding since 2010. Yet the capital’s population is growing twice as fast at the rest of England, and is predicted to reach 9.1 million by the end of the decade.

Research by London Councils has found that by 2020 there will be a cumulative £1.6bn funding shortfall unless the Treasury recognises the cost of meeting the needs of Londoners.

The city has over 50,000 families in temporary accommodation, and boroughs are spending an estimated additional £170m to meet the housing services shortfall.

London Councils warned that children’s services are also heading towards crisis, with 27 out of 30 boroughs reporting an average overspend in children’s social care budgets of £3.5m.

Cllr Claire Kober OBE, chair of London Councils, said: “Properly funded council services that are alive to the changing needs of local residents and businesses are vital to ensuring that London can continue to maintain its position as a leading global city. 

“We hope that government will use the Autumn Budget to put London boroughs on a more sustainable financial footing so that they can continue to provide high quality services.”

Kober added that her organisation hopes the government will commit to working together “on reform of the wider local government finance system,” with economic autonomy for areas through devolution being at the heart of these discussions.

There have been repeated calls in recent days and weeks not just for more robust council funding and greater spending freedoms, but for special attention to struggling sectors that are particularly perceived to be at risk, such as policing, education, housing and social care.

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