While Brexit has been dominating the political agenda, and consequently the national news headlines, since the referendum of 2016, the Government must not lose sight of the importance, too, of local services to people across the country.
Of course, the UK’s planned departure from the EU commands a great deal of resource and attention, given its potential impact, not least on business, trade and the economy, but what also really matters to communities is what is happening on their doorstep.
Local councils have made no secret of the pressures they are under, with a growing demand for care packages for an ageing population and the millions of pounds of savings made in the past decade as a result of funding cuts.
It is a sad reality that local services - health, social care, leisure provision, bin collections, pot hole repairs and street cleaning to name a few - suffer as a result, and that is despite residents continuing to pay council tax.
There are calls for this to be taken into account in the one-year spending review announced by Chancellor Sajid Javid for next month, as the Government looks to fast-track efforts to draw up public spending and investment plans ahead of the looming Brexit deadline.
North Yorkshire County Council has claimed there is a real risk for local authorities if ministers do not use it to address the “serious pressures” they face and the Local Government Association has said the spending round must make the sustainability of local services “the top priority”.
As it rightly pointed out: “Only with the right funding and powers can councils meet their legal duties to provide dignified care for people who are elderly or disabled, protect children, prevent and reduce homelessness and protect the wide-range of other valued local services which make such a positive difference to communities and people’s lives.”
It is vital the Government takes note.