Mayor John Biggs has written to the Chancellor ahead of the Government’s budget announcement tomorrow to warn that raiding money from London to fund the Government’s ‘levelling up’ agenda would have dire consequences for London, which has some of the highest levels of poverty in the UK.
The Mayor highlights that the Government’s cuts to local authority budgets ‘have had deep and serious consequences for the communities that local councils serve’ and that the Government now needs to ‘undo the damage’ rather than divert even more money elsewhere. Tower Hamlets Council has had to make £190m in savings since 2010, with a further £39m savings required by 2023.
The ‘Fair Funding review’ – a Government review of council-funding which could take money away from areas of high deprivation like Tower Hamlets and redirect it to Tory shires – threatens to make the situation even worse and could mean that Tower Hamlets loses at least a further £3.1m in social care funding alone with significantly larger cuts still to follow once the ‘Fair Funding review’ is finalised, meanwhile Conservative council strongholds Hampshire and Surrey would see a £35m and £25m boost respectively.
The letter urges the new Chancellor to use the budget tomorrow to reverse the cuts that local councils have suffered over the past ten years, scrap the Fair Funding Review, and commit to new funding and resources to tackle the social care crisis.
Mayor of Tower Hamlets John Biggs said: “The new Government often talks about ‘levelling up’ the country but this shouldn’t come at the expense of London, an area with some of the highest levels of poverty in the UK.
“The last ten years of austerity have taken their toll on local councils and the vital services they provide, as we know all too well in London. Piling more cuts on councils in London, either through the Fair Funding review or the levelling up agenda, would have dire consequences for our communities and I hope the Chancellor recognises that fact.
“The Chancellor should use the budget tomorrow to invest in our local councils, scrap the Fair Funding Review and get to grips with the national social care crisis we face.”
Full text of the letter:
Alongside many local government colleagues I have lobbied successive chancellors to reverse the cuts that councils have suffered over the past decade.
According to the Local Government Association councils have lost almost 60p in every £1 of central government funding between 2010 and 2020. Here in Tower Hamlets we have had to make £190m in savings since 2010 and on current information we have to save a further £39m by 2023.
These cuts have had deep and serious consequences for the communities that local councils serve and we are now seeing national funding crises in frontline services such as children’s services, adult social care and services for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), amongst others. These are vital services supporting some of the most vulnerable people in our society, and the importance of the services that local councils provide cannot be overstated.
Since 2010 Conservative governments, and the Lib Dems in coalition, have been warned by councils and organisations across the country about the damage that cuts to local authorities would have. After ten years these warnings have been realised and we are now in a precarious position, particularly as the Fair Funding review threatens to take money away from deprived areas like Tower Hamlets and redistribute it to other parts of the country. The new Government often talks of ‘levelling up’ but this shouldn’t mean raiding funding from London which has some of the highest rates of poverty in the UK, particularly in my borough.
There is now an opportunity to change that by reversing the cuts that local councils have endured, scrapping the Fair Funding review and instead funding local government through a system that properly takes account of deprivation and need, and committing to new funding and resources for social care as part of a long-term government-led solution.
Tomorrow’s budget represents an opportunity to begin to restore local councils and ensure that we have the resources we need to serve our communities, particularly the most vulnerable in our society who depend on the vital services that councils provide right across the country.
Mayor John Biggs
Executive Mayor of Tower Hamlets