Gloucestershire County Council has agreed to write to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, asking him to note the funding issues facing local councils and the importance of the Government’s Fairer Funding Review in addressing them.
Cross-party support was given at November’s Full Council meeting, where councillors noted the extra £10m for adult social care and road repairs the council will receive this year and acknowledged the irreplaceable role that local councils play at the heart of communities, providing key public services that protect the most defenceless in society – children at risk, disabled adults and vulnerable older people – and the services we all rely on, like clean streets, libraries, and children’s centres.
The motion went on to note that that consecutive governments have had to take difficult decisions to re-balance the nations accounts and that some councils are facing financial challenges with reductions in funding and that demand for services and therefore costs are set to increase in the years ahead. According to a cross-party report by the Local Government Association, council services nationally will face a funding gap of £3.9 billion in 2019/20, rising to £7.8 billion by 2024/25.
Cllr Ray Theodoulou, Cabinet Member for Finance and Change said: “With extra funding coming from Government this year we will be able to go on supporting the most vulnerable in our county. There is of course the need to manage available funding carefully and we have a strong track record of doing this and being in a financial robust position means we are well placed to face the challenges ahead. We’ll continue to work hard to deliver services that are ever more efficient and effective for the people of Gloucestershire.“
Cllr Paul Hodgkinson, Leader of the Liberal Democrats Group said: “Local services must be funded properly to ensure councils are not hindered in fulfilling their essential role at the heart of communities. Government funding for councils will have fallen 60% by 2020, with £1.3bn of cuts nationally expected next year alone. Thankfully, we don’t find ourselves in the position some other councils find themselves in but with further cuts planned for the years the financial pressures on councils and must be addressed without delay. For this reason we were delighted that all parties supported our calls for the Chancellor to note the funding issues facing local councils.”
Cllr Lesley Williams said: “Council’s play a vital role in protecting children at risk, disabled adults, and vulnerable older people and must be funded to a level that allows them to deliver on this role. By 2024/25 there will be a funding gap nationally for council services of £7.8 billion. Councils simply can’t take any more. To stop the vulnerable bearing the brunt of these reductions, local government funding arrangements must be addressed without delay. It was right that there was cross party support to raise local government finances with the Chancellor and central government”.