Pressure on local councils to cut front line services will intensify over the next two years – according to a report by the Local Government Association.
Many will be perilously close to being unable to meet their statutory responsibilities.
By 2015/16 there will be little alternative for many but reductions in front-line services.
We’ve written before about the crisis in Local Government finance – and how it is affecting us here in Leeds.
But things are set to get worse.
The ‘Under Pressure’ study into local government finances has found that one in five local authorities will have exhausted all other means of efficiency savings by 2015/16.
This will leave them facing the need to reduce frontline services. Libraries, leisure centres, youth clubs and highway maintenance will be first in line for the axe.
Leeds Labour Council has so far managed to make millions of pounds of efficiency savings since 2012. This has enabled it to stave off the need to cut vital frontline services for the city’s most vulnerable people – in spite of a real terms 43% reduction to its budget by 2015/16.
However, the LGA have warned that the LibDem/Tory cuts are far from over.
With £20bn of local government savings still to be found nationally in the next financial year, people will start to see the impact of this on their daily lives.
The report warned that local authorities are almost at the point where they will not have enough money to meet all their statutory responsibilities, let alone those which they are not obliged by law to provide, So if the funding reduction trend continues, funding for leisure and youth services could shrink by 65% by the end of the decade.
Keith Wakefield, Leeds Labour Leader, is in no doubt about the severity of the situation
“The past three years of sustained cuts to our budgets have been incredibly hard and it becomes more and more challenging to make increasingly painful decisions.
Yet we have managed, through enormous effort, responsible financial management and great determination to continue to deliver high-quality, good value-for-money public services with vulnerable people our most important priority.
“Next year will see an even greater challenge with our government grant cut by nearly £46m. We simply cannot continue to do more for less indefinitely. Furthermore, while Leeds and other northern councils are struggling to provide essential services in the face of huge cuts to our grants, more wealthy southern councils have received far less severe cuts, with some even getting increases to their grants.”
Cuts now threaten the very heart of local government services. And they have intensified long-standing inequalities – especially between Northern cities and large areas of the South.
These cuts are at the heart of LibDem/Tory Coalition policy.
We have to wait until 2015 to boot the Coalition out.
But you can send them a message next Thursday – by voting Labour in the Local elections on 22 May.
Britain – and Leeds – will Be Better under Labour.