Andrew Gwynne, MP for Denton and Reddish, is supporting UNISON’s campaign to protect local services provided by councils.
The campaign calls on the Government to fund the £10 billion shortfall facing local services, or force councils to make impossible choices, at a time when resilience is vital for communities.
The coronavirus pandemic has created a huge shortfall in funding for local services this financial year. A huge increase in expenditure was required, as councils scrambled to fight coronavirus. For example, food deliveries to the most vulnerable members of the community, support for social care providers, getting rough sleepers off the streets and the work to help track and trace efforts, have cost councils billions.
At the same time, crucial revenue from business rates and council tax dried up during lockdown. The Chancellor announced a business rate holiday in March for the 2020/21 financial year for all retail, hospitality and leisure businesses. Business rates have increasingly made up more of the funding for councils in recent years, as grant funding has been cut. Parking fees, planning fees and income from things like leisure services, have also been significantly disrupted.
This has compounded an already difficult situation – local services have little resilience, after ten years of cuts. Central government funding for councils fell by 49% in real terms between 2010/11 and 2017/18 in England, according to analysis by the National Audit Office. LGA analysis on council finances published in March 2020 found that councils will have lost £15 billion of core Government funding over the past decade.
Councils in the more deprived parts of England were hit disproportionately badly.
The £3.7bn already provided by the Government does not meet the £10bn shortfall the Local Government Association say councils are facing this year.
Andrew Gwynne said:
“This is an incredibly important campaign from UNISON; councils have been on the frontline in the fight against Coronavirus, but yet again this Conservative Government has starved local government of the resources it needs to do this vital work.
“The Tories have massively underfunded councils for the past decade and put them in the position of having to make impossible choices over which vital services to cut.
“At the start of the pandemic, the Government told councils to spend whatever it took to deal with the crisis. They have broken this promise and it’s local communities who will suffer as a result of this dishonesty.
“It’s time for the Government to do the right thing – close the £10 billion funding gap so that our local services are saved.”