The effects of austerity

“Residents face rising council tax bills and more cuts to services as local authorities are pushed “closer to the financial edge” by the Government’s spending squeeze.

Many English councils say they have been hit by worse-than-expected funding reductions from the Government – leaving some facing multi-million pound budget shortfalls for the coming year.

The scale will become clear in the coming weeks as councils meet to agree their budgets for 2016/2017, but already many are warning they will have to put up council tax by close to 4% and deliver further cuts to services.

Services ranging from children’s centres, short breaks for disabled children and bus subsidies to funding for theatres, museums, community gyms and projects encouraging people to stop smoking and preventing domestic violence are under threat.

Local authorities across England are also considering putting council tax up by the maximum level permitted of 3.99% including an adult social care premium, which would see bills go up by £47 a year for a Band D home in some parts of the country.

Other charges, from garden waste collections to bereavement services, are also set to rise in some areas.

And a study by the GMB union union found that over 25,000 jobs are under threat because of cuts to services, including 3,000 in Glasgow, 1,800 in flood-hit Cumbria and 1,200 in Birmingham.

A radical shake-up in the way the Government is allocating its revenue support grant for councils, which is being phased out by the end of the decade, has left many councils facing deeper cuts than they expected in 2016/2017.

Town hall leaders have sought meetings with ministers and written to the Prime Minister and Chancellor warning them of the impact of the cuts, with some saying they face not being able to meet their legal duties or be “viable” as councils. …”