Today's local government settlement confirms that local government will continue to bear the brunt of public sector cuts.
The cut of up to 8.8% provides no comfort for the next 12 months and, when added to further cuts in 2014/15, will present significant challenges at a time when local government should be focused on economic growth. This settlement is late and the uncertainty and speculation has only made a critical situation worse.
Budget constraints measured in the billions, particularly at a time of rising demand, will require strategic, not tactical, solutions.
Greater powers for local government to impact economic growth, to integrate and share across public services and greater recognition of the impact of welfare changes on local services would also help to support councils minimise the impact on the vulnerable through these challenging times.
Nevertheless, this settlement will increase the risk of more councils being financially unviable and focus needs to be given to how this market failure is managed. Very difficult local choices will now need to be made and local government should have the freedom to make these choices, even when setting council tax.
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