York council leader says Spring Budget is "yet more pain" for local government

The leader of the City of York Council has said the UK government’s Budget announcement is “yet more pain” for local government.

Jeremy Hunt, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, announced a 2p cut to National Insurance contributions, reforms to the non-dom tax status and the creation of a British ISA in the Spring Budget on March 6.

Mr Hunt also announced a six-month extension to the Household Support Fund, which gives local authorities money to help vulnerable people pay for energy and water bills, food and other essential items.

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Coun Claire Douglas, the Labour leader of the City of York Council, said: “For local government, it is yet more pain going forward, resulting in continued Conservative cuts to council services across the country.

Claire Douglas, leader of the City of York CouncilClaire Douglas, leader of the City of York Council
Claire Douglas, leader of the City of York Council

“The extension of the Household Support Fund for six months tells us it is not valued by ministers and its extension is merely to get the government past the general election.

“Support for those in real need will therefore disappear later this year under these plans.

“It was a surprise to see a huge £240m in Levelling Up funding going on housing plans for Canary Wharf, highlighting just how much the government has lost its way.

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“The abolition of the furnished holiday lettings tax regime is some good news for York, although there is far more that needs to be done to halt the loss of family housing to the holiday lets market.”

The furnished holiday lettings tax regime gives tax breaks on the costs incurred from furnished holiday lets and will be abolished in April 2025.

Coun Douglas also claimed people’s standard of living would not be improved by the end of Parliament compared to when Boris Johnson won the 2019 general election despite a cut in National Insurance.

She added: “This, combined with the impact of inflation and the UK economy now being in recession confirms to the public the economic mess the Conservative government is leaving behind as we approach a general election.”

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Shaun Davies, chair of the local government association, said: “It is disappointing that the government has not announced measures to adequately fund the local services people rely on every day.

“Councils continue to transform services but, given that core spending power in 2024/25 has been cut by 23.3 per cent in real terms compared to 2010/11, it is unsustainable to expect them to keep doing more for less in the face of unprecedented cost and demand pressures.

“Councils of all political colours are starting this financial year in a precarious position, and having to scale back or close a wide range of local services, so the continued squeeze in public spending in the years ahead is a frightening prospect for communities.”

In his speech in Parliament, Mr Hunt said: “Dynamism in an economy doesn’t come from ministers in Whitehall.

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“It comes from the grit and determination of people who take risks, work hard and innovate.

“Not government policies but people power.

“It is to unleash that people power that we have today put this country back on the path to lower taxes.”

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