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Chancellor’s Spring Budget offers no respite for Tower Hamlets

Mayor of Tower Hamlets John Biggs has slammed the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s Spring Budget as offering “no respite” for councils across the country struggling under nearly eight years of Tory cuts to town hall budgets.

Local government is facing a funding gap of £5.8billion by 2020, and the LGA highlights that children’s services are facing a £2bn funding gap by 2020.

The Chancellor hinted he might review cuts to public services by setting “an overall path for public spending for 2020 and beyond”, without giving any details of what this would mean for local authorities.

Even Conservative-run councils are struggling with repeated cuts to their funding, with Northamptonshire County Council being the first council in nearly 20 years to issue a section 114 notice imposing immediate spending controls on the local authority.

Mayor of Tower Hamlets John Biggs said: “The Chancellor had an opportunity to reverse cuts to local authorities and make some crucial investments in adult social care, children’s services, schools and frontline services like women’s refuges. Instead the Chancellor’s silence means we will have no respite from the deep and sustained cuts to council budgets.

“Councils provide vital services to the most vulnerable in our society and while the Conservative Government might not realise it, taking such significant funding out of these services has a devastating impact. Local authorities like Tower Hamlets Council are on the frontline protecting residents from the worst of the Tory austerity cuts and the Chancellor has signalled that this isn’t about to change any time soon. “The Government’s continued austerity program is deeply damaging to vital frontline services and it needs to stop.”

Cllr David Edgar, Cabinet Member for Resources, said: “Tower Hamlets Council has suffered repeated cuts to funding from central government, with our budget slashed by £138m between 2010 and 2017 and a further £58m from 2017/18 to 2019/20 as a result of cuts and increasing demand.

“Our latest council budget builds on the work we’ve done to protect frontline services and support residents with measures like our Tackling Poverty Fund and continuing free school meals. Unlike other councils we’re keeping all our libraries, leisure centres and children’s centres open, but extra support from Government would have been very welcome to begin to reverse the damage done by Tory cuts.”