Ministers accused of 'neglect' as councils fear they will not be able to run basic services by 2022

Posted On: 
2nd July 2019

Labour has accused ministers of "neglect" as a new survey revealed that one in three councils fear they will not have the cash to provide basic services within five years.

Adult social care services are among those at risk of going under, the Local Government Association has warned.
Credit: 
PA

The Opposition seized on the latest study by the Local Government Association which found that one in three local authorities fear they will run out of funding to meet their legal duties by 2022/23.

That rises to almost two thirds of councils by 2024/25.

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The LGA warned that an £8bn local government "funding gap" means councils could struggle to offer core services including care for the elderly and disabled, the protection of children and support for the homeless within years.

Meanwhile almost a fifth of councils (17%) do not believe they will be able to make the savings they have promised this year in key services amid a rise in demand - forcing budget cuts elsewhere.

Shadow Communities Secretary Andrew Gwynne warned: "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."

The LGA estimates that councils will have lost 60p in every £1 they used to receive from central government to run services between 2010 and 2020 - with local authorities in England already set to face a £3.1bn funding shortfall by 2020.

The group has urged whoever wins the Conservative leadership race to make boosting to local authority funding a priority.

LGA Chairman Lord Porter, who is a Conservative councillor, said there was now a "real risk to the future financial viability of some services and councils".

He added: "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."

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