With a Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) under way, I have been writing to ministers on behalf of the LGA’s member councils.
The CSR is taking place against the backdrop of the COVID-19 crisis. Councils have played a significant role in supporting the Government’s efforts to tackle this pandemic, while supporting their local communities and businesses.
Working in collaboration with national government, councils have worked hard to protect lives, livelihoods and our most vulnerable residents, and have ensured that our most important public services have kept running successfully.
This work has had a significant impact on our budgets. Councils have faced increased costs and demand pressures at the same time as a significant drop in income used to fund services.
Even before the pandemic, local government faced a funding shortfall of £6.4 billion. While the Government has provided some support, significant challenges remain, and existing inequalities have been exposed. These will have a lasting impact on our communities.
In the letters to ministers, we urge them to use the CSR to provide councils with long-term financial sustainability, alongside a decentralised and locally led fiscal and policy framework.
This will provide local government with the funding and freedoms to deliver a long-term transformation of the economy, communities and the environment – and, in doing so, support the Government’s own work on a wide range of issues, from adult social care to training and skills.
Councils welcome the Government’s ambition for the CSR to level-up economic opportunity across all nations and regions, with investment in infrastructure, innovation, people and public services.
With the right funding and powers, councils can provide the local services on which communities rely and grasp the opportunity to move beyond the COVID-19 pandemic – developing a green renewal, addressing skills gaps, and rebuilding the economy so that it benefits everyone.
As we rebuild our communities and respond to the significant economic challenges ahead, it will be vital that we have a joint endeavour in place between local and national government.