“Extraordinary” savings made by counties over the previous eight years “can’t be extrapolated indefinitely” and must be supported through additional government funding, the chair of the County Councils Network has said.
Paul Carter (Con) told Radio 4 ’s Today programme that counties currently “need a bit of additional help” while waiting for the fairer funding methodology to come into action, something that is due to happen in 2020-21. He said this amounted to an additional £700m.
“The pain is now getting very severe and our immediate problem is getting through next year’s budget,” Cllr Carter said, referencing increased pressures on social care and children’s services.
Cllr Carter said that government claims that county reserves had increased were “definitely not the case”, adding that the “pips are really beginning to squeak” in local government.
Cllr Carter gave his interview on the same day the CCN announced the findings of its survey of member councils’ leaders. The survey found that two-thirds of respondents from 36 councils reported a lack of confidence in their ability to balance council budgets in 2020.
The CCN reports that leaders have identified £3.2bn in funding pressures on council budgets over the next two years, of which £1.8bn is due to costs that are reportedly ’out of their control’
Nick Rushton (Con), CCN finance spokesperson and leader of Leicestershire CC, said: “This latest research reveals a bleak picture… The government is aware that some councils are already teetering on the edge and the stark reality is they cannot wait for the comprehensive spending review. This is why we’ve been campaigning for fairer funding. The time has come for less talk and more action from this government. ”