LGA warns councils ‘completely in the dark’ about next year’s funding

Councils are “completely in the dark” about how much funding they will receive next year, town hall leaders have warned, as a survey suggested a third fear their funding to provide statutory services will run out within three years.

The Local Government Association (LGA) found that one in three councils are concerned they will not be able to afford to provide their legal duties, such as adult social care, protecting children and preventing homelessness by the end of this Parliament.

Ahead of its annual conference in Bournemouth on Tuesday, the LGA is calling on the Government to provide councils with certainty about how local services will be funded next year so they can plan financially.

They are urging whoever is the next prime minister to prioritise local public services in the Spending Review.

The survey found that while one in three councils fear they will run out of funding to provide their legal duties by 2022/23, the figure rises to two thirds by 2024/2025 or later.

Lord Porter (pictured), LGA chairman, said: “Councils in England face a funding gap of more than £3 billion next year, rising to £8 billion by 2025.

“As this survey shows, if the Government fails to adequately fund local government, there is a real risk to the future financial viability of some services and councils.

“Councils would normally have started their budget-setting planning process, but remain completely in the dark about how much funding they will have next year. Communities relying on the vital local services that make a difference to their lives deserve better.

“Securing the financial sustainability of local government must be the top priority for the next prime minister. Urgent guarantees are needed that councils will have the funding they need to ensure our vital public services survive the uncertainty ahead.

“With the right funding and powers, councils can continue to lead their local areas, improve residents’ lives, reduce demand for services and save money for the taxpayer.”

Shadow communities secretary Andrew Gwynne said: “This failing Government has neglected our communities and is ignoring the calls to properly fund our public services.

“Our councils keep our streets cleaner and safer, protect the most vulnerable in society, and maintain our green spaces – but a decade of austerity has eroded these vital services away. This will be the legacy of the Tories and their coalition with the Lib Dems – a decade of neglect.

“Unlike the Tories, the next Labour government will genuinely end austerity and put an end to this crisis – ensuring that our local services have the sustainable funding that they need.”

A Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government spokesman said: “Councils are a vital link to meet the needs of residents, that’s why we’re providing local authorities with access to £46.4 billion this year – a real terms increase – including extra funding to support some of our most vulnerable groups.

“Ultimately councils are responsible for managing their own resources and we are working with local government to develop a funding system for the future.”

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