Labour leader Keir Starmer and Ealing Council finance lead Bassam Mahfouz are calling on the Government ‘to put families first during lockdown’ by supporting parents and protecting household incomes:
- Backing local government and giving it the money it needs to prevent the council tax rise that they have told councils to introduce, which will cost the average Band D household an extra £91 a year.
- Stopping the planned cut in Universal Credit, which would put an extra £1,000 in the pockets of six million families.
- Giving our key workers the pay rise they deserve, including our teachers, armed forces and care workers.
- Extending the ban on evictions and repossessions while the UK remains in lockdown.
Labour Party leader Keir Starmer said,
“The Government must secure the economy to protect family incomes and protect business in Ealing.
“While millions are worried about the future of their jobs and how they will make ends meet, Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak are forcing local government to hike up council tax. The Prime Minister said he would do “whatever is necessary” to support local authorities in providing vital services – he needs to make good on that promise.
“This government has got the wrong priorities for this country and for Ealing. They gave Dominic Cummings a £40,000 pay rise but won’t pay our carers a decent wage. This is the Government that wasted £22 billion of taxpayers’ money on a testing system that doesn’t work but now won’t find the money to support families. And this is the Government that sprayed money on private contracts that didn’t deliver but won’t give councils the support they need.”
Councillor Bassam Mahfouz said,
“The Conservatives’ plan for Ealing in 2021 is simple – pay more get less. They want a huge council tax rise that would see local families paying almost £10m extra in Ealing and they are forcing cuts to services because they have broken their promise to cover the cost of Covid.
“Families in Ealing have been let down time and again by this government – it’s obvious what their priorities are, and it’s not us.”
Notes to editors:
- Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak are hitting family budgets by “permitting” councils and Mayors to increase council tax by up to 5% next year.
- The Local Government Finance Settlement is the annual determination of funding to local government, and was announced to Parliament on Thursday 17th December. The settlement details the central funding provided to each local authority for 2021/22, and how much the government expects them to increase council tax, which councils will use to set their budgets for the year ahead.
- The Settlement indicates that core spending on local services has the potential to increase by £2.2 billion in 2021/22, an increase of 4.5 per cent.
But 85% of this rise comes from an expectation that councils put up council tax by up to 5% in April 2021. The government has announced that Ealing’s Council’s Core Spending Power will increase by £14m with £9.8m of this rise expected to come from increasing Council Tax.
- Local Authorities face a coronavirus funding gap of £7.4bn in 2020/21
At the end of October councils reported spending an extra £6.15bn due to covid-19, a figure which is likely to have increased since then. The same figures show councils expected income had fallen by £5.9bn over the same period, leaving a total cost of at least £12bn.
Source: Table 46 and 47 in round 7 here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/local-authority-covid-19-financial-impact-monitoring-information
Yet Government has provided just £4.6bn – £3.7bn in table 52 in round 7 of the above and an additional £900m in un-ringfenced funding announced here:
This leaves a current in-year funding gap of £7.4bn – equivalent to 15.1% of annual council spending
- Ministers have broken promises to stand behind councils fighting the virus
Ministers promised to stand behind local authorities’ coronavirus-led budget reductions. On March 18th ministers provided assurances that they would make sure the government provides “whatever funding is needed for councils to get through this and come out the other side”, a pledge repeated by Robert Jenrick.
However, Ministers have rowed back on those plans, with Communities secretary Robert Jenrick telling MPs that councils should not “labour under a false impression” that all costs would be reimbursed, provoking widespread anger amongst local government leaders and MPs.
That comes on top of a decade of austerity – councils have made cuts of £16bn over the last decade
£16bn in central government funding for local government over the last decade (LGA)
- The Institute for Fiscal Studies calculates that councils received 77 per cent less in real central government grants per person in 2019-20 than a decade earlier. Social care bore much of the brunt.
The Local Government Association, which represents local authorities, has said council tax represented 45 per cent of members’ core spending in 2010-11 but by 2020-21 it had risen to 60 per cent.
“Councils will still have to find savings to already stretched budgets in order to plug funding gaps and meet their legal duty to set a balanced budget in 2021/22. This means residents may see their council forced to increase bills next year . . . but still have to make cutbacks to local services, including social care.”