Following the resignation of Liz Truss last week, the Conservative Party has confirmed that Rishi Sunak will be the new leader of the Party and, by default, the new Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
Councillor James Jamieson, Chairman of the Local Government Association, responded to the announcement of Sunak’s appointment. He said:
“On behalf of councils across England and Wales, I would like to congratulate Rishi Sunak on becoming our new Prime Minister. As a former Local Government Minister and Chancellor, the PM already understands the mounting pressures that the sector face and the funding that councils desperately need to ensure they can keep vital services running for the many people who rely on them.
“Across the country, councils are working hard to support residents with the cost of living; looking after our most vulnerable children and adults; building desperately needed homes; supporting children with SSEND and providing accommodation to those fleeing Ukraine and Afghanistan.
“However, without certainty of adequate funding – and given the funding gaps they are seeing – councils will have no choice but to implement significant reductions to services, including to those for the most vulnerable in our societies. In these difficult times, we all need to come together and work in the best interests of our resident. The Government needs to ensure councils have the funding to meet ongoing pressures and protect the services that will be vital to achieve its ambitions for growth and to produce a more balanced economy, level up communities and help residents through this cost of living crisis.”
The sentiment behind Cllr Jamieson’s statement is similar to the sentiment that Welsh Minister for Finance and Local Government used at a Welsh Government press conference today. Finance Minister Evans urged central government to continue backing local authorities and protect public services amid austerity threatening to halt progress being made by councils. She said:
“By announcing reckless, uncosted tax cuts for the rich, the UK Government lost control of the economy. Now the Chancellor wants us all to pay for its failures with deep spending cuts.
“We are facing a new, damaging era of austerity, which would threaten jobs, businesses and public services.
“The Chancellor could protect public services by using his tax levers more fairly and increase investment to get the economy moving in the right direction. He could help people pay their bills by increasing benefits in line with inflation.
“As we look ahead to Budget, we need the UK Government to take action to avoid the type of destructive austerity that will further damage our economy and the public services so many of us rely on.”