In setting this year’s budget Salford City Council will have seen its budget cut by £222 million since 2010/11 as a consequence of cuts to the central government grant and un-funded budget pressures, with the Local Government Association (LGA) also highlighting that councils have seen a £15 billion cumulative cut in Whitehall grants since 2010.
Government is once again forcing local authorities to use regressive forms of taxation to hopefully balance their budgets rather than restoring Whitehall grants, which have been stripped away since 2010/11. The other week we were informed that 12 councils in England are in rescue talks with the government over their finances, with the Chief Executive of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) suggesting that 12 councils is probably the “tip of the iceberg” in terms of the precariousness of local government finances following 10 years of austerity and the financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic for councils up-and-down the country.
In addition to this we have still seen no green paper from the government on proposals to hopefully resolve the social care funding crisis, despite it being promised back in March 2017, and now nearly four years on local authorities are being forced again to increase the adult social care precept to raise necessary finances to fund social care. It’s truly shocking that government hasn’t prioritised resolving the social care funding crisis, especially given the critical role that our care workers have played in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, with government seemingly favouring spending time and resources on further NHS reforms and planning reforms, rather than tackling the scourge of poverty pay amongst our country’s care workers.
I’ve always been very clear, simply de-funding local government and passing the burden of funding services onto our residents, many of whom are themselves struggling is no way to fund local government and it certainly doesn’t demonstrate a commitment to re-balancing the economy and levelling-up, despite the government’s rhetoric! Government should at least be fully compensating local authorities for the last 12 months and urgently resolve the social care funding crisis, nearly four years on from the government promising a green paper back in March 2017.
Any decision we take to increase council tax we know will negatively affect the residents in our city, who have already sacrificed so much in the last twelve months. The government have once again failed to recognise the important role of local authorities and given us little choice, as we must continue to do all we can to protect services for the people of our city.