Green Group leader Eleanor Combley today travelled to London to hand in a letter to the Treasury calling for an end to cuts to local government funding. The letter, signed by Green councillors and councillor candidates around England, highlights the warnings of the Local Government Association (LGA) “of real and growing uncertainty about how local services will be funded beyond 2020” and calls on the Chancellor Philip Hammond MP “to urgently provide local councils with the money they so clearly need to protect services and restore spending on community and frontline services to sustainable levels.” After years of local government cuts, essential frontline services are now threatened in local authorities across the UK – services such as adult social care, looked-after children, domestic abuse survivors, older people and low-income families in crisis.
Councillor Combley said:
“I would like to thank Caroline Lucas for supporting me to take the issue of local government funding all the way to the Treasury, alongside Green Councillors from other areas of the UK. It gave me the opportunity to raise issues affecting Bristol, such as the 30% cut to the budget for youth services voted through by Labour councillors last week. A perfect example of how austerity policies lack both economic and moral sense, this funding cut will end almost all youth work with under 11’s and remove open access sessions. These play an important preventive role, enabling play workers to get to know children well enough to keep them on the right track, and to spot problems before they get serious. Ending this work and limiting funding to targeted work means intervention only comes later, once problems pass a certain threshold, and is highly likely to increase future costs in other service areas.
“I could not vote for Bristol Labour’s austerity cuts budget, but I will do everything I can to reduce the impact of those cuts, whether by proposing helpful amendments to the budget, working behind the scenes in City Hall or taking the fight to Westminster as I have done today.”
Green Party co-Leader Caroline Lucas and Deputy Leader Amelia Womack were also there to support the hand-in. Caroline Lucas said:
“Our party is united in opposition to these planned cuts. Local authorities are already straining under the intense of pressure of year on year cuts and this further squeeze will put frontline services in the firing line. The Government can stop these cuts – and protect these essential local services – but that would mean ending their ideological love-affair with the failed austerity project. We are urging Philip Hammond to safeguard our vital local services from any further harm.”
– In December 2017 the Local Government Association – which represents councillors of all parties as well as independents, criticised the government’s continued lack of action on local government funding, stating:
“Local services are facing a £5.8 billion funding gap in 2019/20, as well as a £1.3 billion pressure to stabilise the adult social care provider market today. The additional council tax flexibility – estimated by our analysis to be worth up to £540 million in 2019/20 if all councils use it in both 2018/19 and 2019/20 – is nowhere near enough to meet the funding gap. The Government needs to provide new funding for all councils over the next few years so they can protect vital local services from further cutbacks.”
“It is extremely disappointing that the Government has again chosen not to address the continuing funding gap for children’s and adult social care. We have repeatedly warned of the serious consequences of funding pressures facing these services, for both the people that rely on them and the financial sustainability of other services councils provide. An injection of new money from central government is the only way to protect the vital services which care for older and disabled people, protect children and support families.”