After a decade of massive funding reductions, London borough budgets are on the brink of crisis. Today London Councils is launching a major campaign calling for long-term investment in local public services.
London Councils’ new campaign, ‘Investing in the future’, argues that the services London boroughs provide to their communities – from children’s social care to road repairs and recycling collections – are essential to the success and resilience of the city as a whole.
London boroughs have taken more than their fair share of austerity, experiencing a 63% reduction to core funding from Government during this decade. At the same time, London’s population has grown at more than double the rate of that of the rest of the country, resulting in 900,000 more people in the capital accessing services. Expenditure on central government services increased by 5% over the same period.
London Councils is urging Government to use the next Spending Review as an opportunity to work with local council leaders to put local government funding on a long-term sustainable footing, ensuring councils have the powers, resources and freedoms needed to continue empowering their communities and shaping local areas.
The campaign aims to:
1. Achieve an overall increase in funding for local government in next year’s Spending Review. This increase must be informed by a full assessment of spending pressures facing the sector based on information from across all Government departments that fund local government.
2. Ensure funding for children’s services, adult social care and homelessness that matches the scale of demand from residents. Without this, local public services, and particularly the wellbeing of the most vulnerable people in society that depend on them, will be put at risk.
3. Target investment in value-for-money local government services. This will support the work of councils that helps manage demand for more expensive services in other parts of the public sector. It will also direct investment to support future wealth creation and revenue generation.
4. Make the case for reform and devolution of local taxes. This will deliver clearer local accountability for both raising revenues and investing in local public services.
Cllr Peter John OBE, Chair of London Councils, said:
“London Councils is determined to play a prominent role in local government’s work to secure a long-term funding settlement for the sector. Local government needs to speak with one voice to call for a bigger funding “cake” in the next Spending Review.
“The launch of our new funding campaign will also highlight the specific funding challenges facing London and why these need to be urgently addressed in order to safeguard both the interests of Londoners and London’s contribution to the rest of the country.
“Investment in preventative work by councils represents a better use of public money overall than paying for costly failure. Central government must recognise this.
“If government fails to act now it risks destabilising the essential public services that councils provide, harming vulnerable people and putting pressure on other public services such as the NHS, schools and the police. Many council budgets are already on the brink.”
Notes to editors:
London Councils represents the 32 London boroughs and the City of London Corporation. It is a cross-party organisation that works on behalf of all of its member authorities regardless of political persuasion.