Local authorities are urging the government for clarity over resources for councils next year, and a ‘cast-iron commitment’ to the Fair Funding Review.
With the Spending Review unlikely to be published this year, owing to Brexit, councils are calling for an immediate funding strategy for 2020, according to the County Councils Network (CCN).
Local government faces a £5.2bn funding black hole next year, even if all councils raise council tax and there were no reductions in funding; with counties having the largest gap of £2.1bn, CCN said.
In its Five-Point Plan for Local Government, published this week, CCN calls for emergency resource, targeted at the areas most in need, including social care.
At the same time, CCN is calling on the new government to commit to seeing the Fair Funding Review through to completion and seek to rebalance funding inequalities between rural and urban locations.
Once published, the Fair Funding Review will affect how funding is allocated and redistributed between local authorities from 2020 onwards.
In its Five-Point Plan, CCN said that it would be ‘extremely disappointed’ if the review is delayed but warned that it cannot be abandoned, and ministers must work with councils and the local government sector to finalise proposals.
Councillor David Williams, CCN chairman-elect and leader of Hertfordshire County Council, said: “We are currently living through some of the most unprecedented political times in recent memory. As such, much of the attention of the new government will be focused on Brexit. Yet the inescapable fact is that there are huge domestic challenges – and opportunities – facing the new administration.
“This is why CCN has published this Five-Point Plan for Local Government. This is both pragmatic and achievable enabling the new government to hit the ground running – and which can be delivered without legislation.
“It seeks to deal with the financial uncertainty councils are facing across the country. If a year Spending Review cannot take place this year, it outlines the steps government needs to take to help close the £5.2bn funding gap facing councils, while ensuring resources are targeted on councils who face the greatest financial challenge.”