By Tom Forrest | 28 November 2013
Local government’s funding system is ‘broken’ and is pushing many councils toward failure, the chair of the Local Government Association has warned.
Sir Merrick Cockell said that local services were too exposed to changing priorities from Whitehall and that the funding system needed to be overhauled.
‘The current system must be replaced with a way of funding local authorities which delivers adequate money, distributes it fairly and provides the long-term certainty councils need to plan for future demands,’ he said.
Cockell was responding to a report published today from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. This suggested that deprived areas are suffering more from local government cuts than affluent ones.
The foundation found that the difference between the most and least deprived amounted to around £100 per head in England and Scotland. It suggested that a large factor was the reduction, scrapping or consolidation of many specific grants.
‘Deprived authorities were previously more grant-dependent and have suffered disproportionately,’ the report states.
Cockell said that while councils had been able to protect vital services so far, the public would begin to a notice a difference over the next two years.
‘It is logical that when government funding is cut, the authorities most dependent on central support suffer more, but every council in the country is facing substantial challenges.’
He called on all the political parties to commit to reforming funding to offer a viable system for the long term.
‘Ultimately, that means taking funding decisions out of central government’s hands and placing them with local government as a collective group, and delivering long-term financial settlements tied to the life of a Parliament.’