16 December 2005
Town and county hall leaders have accepted they need to work with the funding settlement announced last week but have appealed to ministers not to blame tax rises on high-spending councils.
On December 9, councillors and finance officers from across England met to digest the implications of the provisional settlement at the Local Government Association's annual finance conference.
Although the 3% increase was better than many feared, authorities are not ruling out cuts in services.
David Shakespeare, leader of Buckinghamshire County Council, said: 'The settlement's on the table and we've got to stop whingeing and get on with delivering it.
'But if we do, the government can't blame council tax rises on profligate local government.'
In response, local government minister Phil Woolas said accusations of waste were not coming from central government. He added that the perception of reckless spending in councils was not based on fact. 'There is a mythology of profligacy in local government building up,' he said.
Woolas said that town halls also needed to understand the difficulties faced by Whitehall.
'Central governments of all political persuasions are under pressure too. The pressures that fall on local government are not unique to local government,' Woolas said.
David Cook, chief executive of Kettering Borough Council, called on Woolas to commit to helping councils achieve full cost recovery.
The minister agreed there was a need to look at net costs: 'We now have an even better working relationship with the LGA to identify what cost pressures are.'