Mayor of Tower Hamlets John Biggs has written to the Prime Minister calling for cuts to local councils to be reversed. Since 2010 Tower Hamlets has had to save £190m due to both government funding cuts and increasing pressure on services. The council has to save a further £39m by 2023.
In the letter the Mayor calls for a reversal of cuts to local government. Since 2010 nationally there has been a 43% fall in funding equating to over £10 billion cut from the Local Government Funding Settlement.
The Mayor points out that with the council seeing a reduction of its workforce by around a third and savings from efficiencies having already been made there is now little room for councils to manoeuvre.
The council is currently setting its budget against a backdrop of a decade of cuts to its own budget from government and increasing demand in areas like Special Educational Needs and Adult Social Care.
The council’s budget proposals invest in these areas to protect the most vulnerable residents but with the Tory government not pledging enough additional money to meet the increased demands it is the council that has to cover the funding gap.
With core funding cut, local councils like Tower Hamlets have increasingly relied on other income like business rates, however through its ‘rebasing’ of business rates the government is proposing to claw back money from councils.
Mayor of Tower Hamlets John Biggs said: “Government can’t simply slash money for local services for a decade and expect there to be no impact. While as a council we have managed our budget well the government has only ever devolved responsibility with strings so our options are limited.
“If austerity really is over then the Prime Minister needs to cut some financial slack for councils who are on the front line.”
Cllr Candida Ronald, Cabinet Member for Resources and the Voluntary Sector, said: “Councils are walking a financial tightrope in local government with this Tory government continuing to cut our budget.
“In areas like social care and Special Education Needs the government has been happy to leave it to councils to pick up the additional cost pressures and while our budget invests in these areas this is not a sustainable funding model for the future.”