“Council leaders from some of Britain’s biggest cities are demanding an emergency cash injection to stop a “catastrophic collapse” of authorities that have faced the biggest cuts to their support.
Bosses from Manchester, Newcastle and Birmingham are among almost 80 Labour council leaders to write to James Brokenshire, the communities secretary, demanding that a forthcoming cut in funding of £1.3bn is cancelled “at an absolute minimum”.
It comes as several councils warn they are facing bankruptcy and one, Northamptonshire council, is effectively bailed out by the government after hitting a financial crisis. English councils face a funding gap of £5.8bn by 2020, according to the Local Government Association.
The plea from Labour councils comes ahead of this week’s financial settlement for local government. In their letter, they warn that by 2020, councils will have lost 60p out of every £1 they were given by central government in 2010.
“As leaders of councils representing millions of citizens, we are writing to make clear that you must use the settlement to truly end austerity in local government and immediately provide the funding we need to avoid catastrophic collapse in key council services,” they write.
“The most deprived areas of the country have been hit much harder than the richest areas – nine of the 10 most deprived councils in the country have seen cuts of almost three times the national average. After eight years of austerity, many councils have reached breaking point and council budgets are perilously close to collapse.”
“At an absolute minimum, you must use the funding settlement to cancel the planned further cut of £1.3bn to next year’s Revenue Support Grant. To blindly press on with further cuts at a time when local government is on the brink of collapse would be hugely irresponsible.”
A Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government spokesperson said: “We’ll be confirming local government funding for the financial year 2019/20 soon.
“Already we’ve committed to providing councils with £90.7bn over the next two years to help them meet the needs of their residents.
“In the budget we announced more than £1bn in extra funding for local government to address pressures on their services.”