A vital announcement on the level of cuts that cash-strapped councils will receive next year has been shelved because of the Tory Brexit mess.

Conservative Communities secretary James Brokenshire had been due to announce the provisional Local Government Finance Settlement on Thursday 6th December. But less than 24 hours before the much-anticipated announcement the government cancelled the statement and told local authorities they would not be told about their latest budget cuts until after the key vote on Theresa May’s Brexit deal.

The Prime Minister, who now faces a leadership election, then cancelled the vote on the Brexit deal amid predictions of an overwhelming defeat.

Mayor of Tower Hamlets John Biggs said:

“We’re urgently calling on the Government to recognise that council budgets cannot be seen as easy targets for cuts – the cuts we face have very serious impacts on our residents and to delay vital funding announcements only piles on the pressure.

“The delay to the funding announcement is just further evidence that the day-to-day impact of Brexit is not hypothetical, it’s very real and it matters a great deal.”

“I’m deeply concerned that the Government is simply incapacitated by Brexit and incapable of delivering the funding that councils need.”

Andrew Gwynne, Labour’s shadow communities secretary, said “the delay was evidence that “Theresa May’s weakness has completely immobilised the government”.

“The Tories are so trapped in a crisis of their own making over their botched Brexit negotiations that they are neglecting the needs of the country,” he said.

“Having delayed the introduction of several key policies, it’s clear that the Prime Minister is in office but not in power.”

The figures announced in the funding settlement are key for local authorities, according to a Local Government Association (LGA) spokesman, who said that UK money needed for vital community services was ‘running out fast’. Councils have lost almost 60p out of every £1 the last Labour government spent on local services, with the LGA estimating that the funding gap will reach £3.2bn by next year (2019/20).

Cuts imposed by the Tory Government since 2010 have meant that –

  • London councils have lost 60p out of every £1 of core funding that the last Labour Government was spending on local government in 2010.
  • By 2020, funding to councils in London will have been cut by over £4 billion (63%).
  • Tower Hamlets Council has seen its core funding cut by £148m since 2010 – the equivalent of 64%.
  • Ongoing government cuts and rising demand for services mean in the coming three years Tower Hamlets Council will have to save a further £44m.

Despite facing similar gaps in funding for other vital frontline services, like care for older people and tackling homelessness, London councils are being forced to make further savings of at least £2.1 billion to balance their budgets over the next four years.

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