Bulletin: Still wearing hair shirt!
Good to see so many of you recently at our many recent events. If you are interested in attending our big Annual councillor’s conference on Friday 24th at the refreshed LGA 18, Smiths Square, Westminster, London, please let me or the LGA Independent Group office know. Toby.firstname.lastname@example.org. It is always a brilliant event and well worth attending. The Welsh Local Government Conference is the day before, making a two day event just possible!
We are awaiting the English budget announcements on 22nd November with baited breath. Many residents tell me they are paying their Income tax just the same, but the amount of money coming back to Councils for local spend has reduced by some £16bn over the last ten years. We were promised we could keep all the business rates we collect locally, but the government has stopped half way, without delivering on that.
From our discussions and correspondence with our members, we formed our budget submissions and lobbied hard on proposals designed to help councils deliver for residents in both England and Wales. So here is how to recognise a responsive budget:
- Straight revenue: Councils are £5.8bn short of what is needed to make ends meet by 2020. Children’s services underfunded by £2.3bn. (75pc of the councils are overspent on children’s services, by half a million each on average.)
- Any unfunded cost pressures need to be supported. Our current LGA budget is based on a 1pc pay increase only, so any announcements there will need to be funded.
- Social care market needs a one off boost of £1.3bn to get it back on the straight and narrow.
- A capital prosperity fund to replace the £8.4bn EU regeneration fund.
- To help us tackle homelessness, lift the housing borrowing cap, allow councils to control their own ‘buy to let’ discounts and to keep the funding to enable councils to replace housing that has been sold.
- Universal credit. We called a “pause” in the roll-put to get the rules improved. We are calling for a process that works and does not leave people with nothing for six weeks.
- An agreement to work on a fairer funding arrangement distribute funds better between councils.
- Support for trade and investment, with or without the EU.
Councils in England and Wales are using their Powers of Competence to make money to help run services, to create housing companies and to encourage the communities to do more.
I met this week with Leaders of Local Government from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, finding areas of common cause where we can unite to create a stronger lobbying force for Local Government, on the key issues.
Wishing you all the very best,
Councillor Marianne Overton MBE
Lincolnshire County Council and North Kesteven District Council
Leader of the Independent Group and
Vice Chairman of the Local Government Association