Under pressure

By Greg Clark | 04 December 2023
  • Greg Clark

If ever there was a year in which the eve-of-Christmas Local Government Financial Settlement was needed to supply some festive cheer it is this one. The wait between the Autumn Statement and the Local Government Financial Settlement is proving an anxious one this year. The gulf between the demands placed on local councils and the financial resources available to them – already unsustainable in the long-term – looks forbidding in the year ahead.

The long-term financial sustainability of councils did not feature in an Autumn Statement focused on economic growth. Indeed, the outlook of unprotected departments’ spending being eroded by inflation is consistent with what I have written in these pages in recent months. Local government cannot count on – from either of the main contenders for Government – a restoration of previous levels of grant funding. Reform to the structure of local government will be required. This will happen after, not before, the General Election.

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