PM should set out local gov plans in first 100 days

The Local Government Information Unit (LGiU) has launched the final report of the Local Finance Taskforce and called on the next Prime Minister to address local government funding in his first 100 days in office.

The final report, A roadmap for the future sustainability of local finance, sets out a plan and timeline for developing a fair and sustainable funding system that includes: a commitment to a one year emergency local government finance settlement; a national strategy for health and social care funding and the removal of the council tax referendum requirement.

In the report, the taskforce challenges the next Prime Minister, either Boris Johnson or Jeremy Hunt, to set out a plan for local government finance that considers the following: quantum, uncertainty and risk, adult social care, business rates, council tax, other sources of funding and local government’s place within the wider public sector.

Launched in February 2018, the taskforce consulted 245 senior figures within local government on the future of local government funding, with the final report bringing together this evidence and recommending a local government-led path to a sustainable financial future. The roadmap follows on from the Local Finance Scorecard to kickstart a wider debate on the big ideas for local government finance and funding post 2020.

The report contains immediate recommendations to the government to assist councils in setting their 2020-21 budgets, as well as sector-approved plans for building a funding system that doesn’t leave the fate of the most vulnerable dependent on the success of their local high street.

Jonathan Carr-West, chief executive of LGiU, said: “The next Prime Minister will have 100 days to save local government when he is elected on 23 July.  At the moment, councils have no idea how they will be funded this time next year. They face a financial cliff edge on 31st March 2020 and currently have no ability to budget or plan their services for the year ahead.

“Some may soon be forced to take very difficult decisions, based on their worst-case scenario budget estimates – making redundancies, stripping down services, selling valued public assets – that may turn out to be completely unnecessary. Under normal circumstances, this would be a recipe for disaster but under the current Government it appears to be another issue caught up in the Brexit fog.

“Our Local Finance Taskforce sets out a roadmap for the future that is sustainable. In it, we demand from government a local government funding system that is fair, transparent and provides certainty and a settlement that is clear about the role and value of councils, and their relationship with the wider public sector and society. Local government deserves better and local government deserves more.”

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