Senior local government figures have angrily dismissed comments made by chief secretary to the Treasury Liz Truss, who claimed the government is “not making cuts to local authorities”.
When asked during an interview with the BBC on Monday whether she could rule out any further cuts to local authorities, Ms Truss insisted funding had not been reduced because the government had given local authorities the flexibility to raise revenue through council tax.
A report by the National Audit Office in March said there had been a 49% reduction in government funding for councils between 2010-11 and 2017-18. It added that there had been a 29% reduction in councils’ spending power including council tax revenue during the same period.
Society of Local Authority Chief Executives & Senior Managers president Jo Miller described Ms Truss’s claims as a “gross distortion of fact” on Twitter.
The Doncaster MBC chief executive added the amount her council could raise in council tax “doesn’t touch the sides of what’s been lost”.
A gross distortion of fact .@MyDoncaster 2010= 66% of total funds to serve local ppl came via gov grant. That has been cut & in 2020 is zero. 1%council tax =£1million & doesn’t touch sides of what’s been lost .Regressive Ctax raises more in wealthier places https://t.co/qhjcZ1au8t— Jo miller (@jomillerdonny) October 3, 2018
Wiltshire Council’s corporate director Carlton Brand responded to Ms Miller by saying “Well said Jo. Same in Wiltshire”.
Nick Forbes, leader of the Local Government Association’s Labour group, said the comments demonstrated that the government is “clueless and oblivious to the damage they’re causing”.”
“There was a time when this would be called lying. Not just about the cuts, but on the ability to raise revenue too,” he said.
The Local Government Association on Monday called on the Treasury to carry out a full assessment of “growing funding gaps” across the sector and said councils are set to lose an additional £1.3bn of central government funding in 2019-20.