Happy new year to everyone working in local government.
Like most of us, I’m glad to see the back of 2020 and hope that 2021 brings the promise of ending our COVID-19 nightmare.
For many families, though, this year will bring further uncertainty as we respond to the greatest economic shock in 300 years. Unbelievably, the local government finance settlement shows that the Government’s slogan for 2021 will be ‘Pay more, get less’.
They’re lining up a £2 billion council tax bombshell for hard-pressed families, combined with almost no extra government money for councils.
The council tax hike comes with final confirmation that the Government will not meet its promise to cover all the local costs of COVID-19, forcing cuts in services – while the vast majority of any additional spending power will be funded by local residents, not Whitehall.
“The Government will not meet its promise to cover all the local costs of COVID-19, forcing cuts in services”
More than 70 councils will see no increase in their funding at all, even after the Government asks them to put council tax bills up by the maximum amount.
Two in five councils had their government funding cut for 2021/22 – despite already being hundreds of millions out of pocket as a result of unfunded COVID-19 expenses and lost income.
Across the country, the pandemic has left local authorities with a £7.4 billion black hole as ministers reneged on promises to stand behind council spending to tackle the virus.
So what does this new year bring? Bigger council tax bills, fewer services, and more uncertainty. Pay more, get less – the Conservatives’ plan for 2021.