Research highlights the need to act on funding for local authorities - The Yorkshire Post says
A survey of 47 local authorities in the North, the Midlands and on the South Coast revealed the severe strain on finances meant five are currently in the process of deciding whether to issue a section 114 notice of their inability to balance their annual budget in 2023-24. An additional nine councils which are members of the Special Interest Group of Municipal Authorities (Sigoma) said they may have to declare bankruptcy next year.
Local authorities in the most deprived areas were always going to be at risk of falling into trouble as a result of financial shocks. Inflation has pushed many of these councils closer to bankruptcy.
The most common cause of financial pressures was demand for children’s social care services following requests from the Government to treat these services as an equal priority with adult social care, and allocate additional funding.
While the current cost of living crisis is impacting all facets of life, the reality is that councils in some of the most deprived areas have just been scraping by as a result of more than a decade of underfunding of local authorities from Westminster.
It’s easy to be critical of local authorities and blame them for waste when spending goes wrong.
But as Sir Stephen Houghton, Labour leader of Barnsley Council and Sigoma chair, says: “The funding system is completely broken. Councils have worked miracles for the past 13 years, but there is nothing left.”
It won’t do for the Government to simply brush off the issue as the responsibility of local authorities. Ultimately, ratepayers in the most deprived areas are going to end up with poorer services.