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LGA WARNS GOVERNMENT TO DELIVER NEW MONEY OR FACE WORSENING PUBLIC SERVICES

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The Local Government Association (LGA) is stepping up its political pressure ...
The Local Government Association (LGA) is stepping up its political pressure

on government to find significant new money for this year's spending review

as part of its final SR2002 lobbying campaign push. The organisation has

voiced its concerns that in addition to the need for an increase in revenue

funding of£18.7bn, a significant increase in capital resources is

also needed for the modernisation and renewal of public services, to address

current shortfalls and to deliver the government's ambitious public service

reform and improvement agenda.

The LGA will be briefing senior advisors and ministers as part of its

continued fight to ensure that despite the recent cabinet reshuffle, certain

key areas are guaranteed the highest priority including education, social

services, transport, and crime, while reinforcing the urgent need for more

funding across the board.

Local authorities hold responsibility for finance and delivery of education,

police, transport, fire, the environment, protective and cultural services,

all of which require significant new money in order to deliver at current

levels let alone deliver measurable improvements. And although March's

budget announcement of an additional£360m a year for personal social

services was a welcome sign that the government is listening to the LGA's

arguments, an estimated£280m was imposed on local authorities by the NI tax

increase.

Jeremy Beecham, chair of the LGA said:

'The LGA will be tackling government on these and other key issues over the

next few weeks in the hope that a shared policy agenda will be matched by

the financial muscle needed by local authorities to deliver and sustain

improvements.'

Key priority areas include:

Transport - currently under-funded by at least£600m and in steep

decline - is an area where at least a generation of under-investment has

left the system crippled and a local road network in its worst condition

since records began nearly 30 years ago. One key area of public transport in

need of urgent investment is the national bus network.

It is estimated that by the end of the last financial year:

* Around 29 per cent of local councils will have made cuts to

supported bus services in order to stay within budget.

* Almost 1.5 million commercial bus journeys (almost half as

many again as reported in 2000) will not run in the next year because they

were de-registered and authorities did not have the funds to replace them.

Education - there is also a compelling case for continued and significant

investment in education in order to meet the government's pledges with an

estimated£8bn in revenue spending needed to urgently tackle a range

of issues including the crisis in teacher recruitment and retention.

*£1.2bn to meet the government's pledge to provide

additional teachers and support staff and reduce class sizes.

Crime - prevention and modernisation of the police service is a priority

for both local and national government. However, if the local governmentis

going to deliver the reform and modernisation that the service needs then

the current gap in funding must be plugged. At present, the gap between the

government's assessment of the police service's need to spend and actual

expenditure stands at£445m and is set to widen.

*£986m is required to enhance operational capability

Social Services - three of the LGA's six commitments for local communities

will be delivered through Personal Social Services - supporting children and

their families, helping older people live independent lives and helping the

hardest to reach into work. The pressure experienced in social services

currently manifests itself in both financial and human resources despite the

recent annual increase of 6 per cent. However additional resources will

still need to be found in order to meet the shortfall between the needs

identified by the LGA and the resources provided. Some of the pressures

identified in the LGA submission include:

* Rising numbers of children in care coupled with an increase

in needs of disabled children requires£330m

* 'Winter pressures' - authorities cannot respond to hospital

discharges through lack of funding - requires£400m

* Inflationary increases are estimated to total just over£1bn it is essential therefore that provision be made within the

settlement for funding pay costs for 2003-2006.

Environment - one of the LGA's key corporate priorities concerns the notion

of liveability which encompasses all the factors that makes somewhere a

pleasant place to live and work. Further resources are essential to ensure

that local government is able to take a lead role in delivering increased or

new services in areas such as waste disposal, recycling, climate change, and

flood protection.

*£1.3bn is required for waste management and recycling

*£250m is needed to tackle climate change and energy

efficiency

*£133m to manage coast and flood protection effectively

Copies of the LGA briefing factsheets can be found at www.lga.gov.uk

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