Our Independent Group members have been very clear on what is needed from the Spending Review, starting with certainty. Thus, the Chancellor’s statement covering only one year falls short.
The 4.5 per cent increased ‘spending power’ promised by 2021/22 risks being achieved by councils raising their taxes, when instead certainty of long-term funding is needed.
“The green agenda has to be more than words”
We were promised “whatever it takes” and that councils would be fully reimbursed for both coronavirus costs and loss of income because of the Government’s lockdowns. Announcements on homelessness, the towns fund, supporting victims of domestic abuse and additional support for councils are welcome, but it’s not all new money and does not go far enough.
The levelling-up initiatives may require support from local MPs, so woe betide any not in good communication with their local councils.
Our council staff have worked to keep the country running, often redeployed but not furloughed, working solidly throughout.
Councillors, teachers, emergency staff, care workers, environmental and waste services, highways and public health workers are tracking the complex COVID-19 cases and making the food deliveries that the Government couldn’t reach.
Despite years of cuts, they are now thanked with a standstill income.
The green agenda has to be more than words. Conflicting with it is the policy of ‘build, build, build’, and an insistence on pushing a planning policy that creates a developers’ charter of centralised decision-making, undermining local voices and the ability of councils to provide matching essential local facilities and services.
Our world deserves better.