Decision Maker: Council
Decision status: Recommendations Approved
Is Key decision?: No
Is subject to call in?: No
Impact of the Government’s Autumn Statement on Local GovernmentFinance
Councillor Richard Henry moved and Councillor Jeannette Thomas seconded the motion set out in the agenda papers.
During the debate, Councillor Henry agreed to accept a suggested re-wording of the second paragraph of the motion from “Conservative-Liberal Democrat Alliance government” to “Conservative-Liberal Democrat Coalition government”.
Following further debate, and upon the re-wording motion being put to the vote, it was RESOLVED that:
1. This Council notes with deep concern the significant impact of de-funding local government by Conservative-led governments since 2010.
2. This Council recognises that local government in England has been actively stripped of funding under successive Conservative-led governments, including the Conservative-Liberal Democrat Alliance government. All English local authorities have been forced to cut spending on nearly every aspect of their services since 2010. Poorer areas have been hit disproportionately, leading to councils having to make harsh cuts, including to services such as parks, libraries, refuse collection, and children's centres. Following the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement, the Chair and leaders of the four main parties in the Local Government Association (LGA) wrote an open letter to the Chancellor warning of “low financial resilience across the sector following a 27.0 per cent real-terms reduction in core spending power1 since 2010/11. The Local Government Association estimates that there is a “funding gap” of almost £3bn over the next two years.
3. This Council notes that since 2010, several councils have issued Section 114 notices (under the Local Government Finance Act 1988) and more look likely to follow. Both the Local Government Association (LGA) and the County Councils Network (CCN) undertook surveys of their member councils immediately after the Autumn Statement. The Local Government Association reported findings of a "growing financial crisis”, with almost one in five of its members at risk of running out of funds either this year or next.
4. A report by The National Audit Office (NAO) have published data that shows Stevenage’s Core Spending Power has reduced by 64.5% in real terms when comparing 2010/11 to 2020/21. The Council’s own government funding reduced by £5.3Million to 2019/20 and the need to fund inflationary pressures has meant the Council has had to find over £14Million of savings to stay financially resilient. This Council has had to make some very hard decisions – and those decisions get harder and harder each year as we are cut to the bone. It has to stop.
5. This Council:
Condemns the reduction of funding to local
government since 2010 by successive Conservative-led governments
and calls for immediate action by the current Government to provide
a sustainable funding model for the sector, thereby stopping this
assault on local democracy.
b. Calls on the Chancellor to listen to the voices of the leaders of the Local Government Association (of which Stevenage Borough Council is a member) in their letter of 13 October, 2023 and, in particular:
· Address funding sufficiency and certainty issues faced by councils.
· Take steps to strengthen the local government workforce.
· Strengthen councils’ role in key national policy areas such as housing and net zero.
Publication date: 31/01/2024
Date of decision: 24/01/2024
Decided at meeting: 24/01/2024 - Council