1 March 2018
Councillor Lesley Grahame joined Green MP Caroline Lucas to lobby Treasury for end to local government cuts
Thorpe Hamlet councillor Lesley Grahame travelled to London to hand in a letter to the Treasury calling for an end to cuts to local government funding. The letter, signed by Green councillors and councillor candidates around England, highlights the warnings of the Local Government Association (LGA) “of real and growing uncertainty about how local services will be funded beyond 2020” and calls on the Chancellor Philip Hammond MP “to urgently provide local councils with the money they so clearly need to protect services and restore spending on community and frontline services to sustainable levels.”
Councillors and candidates, accompanied by Green Party leader Caroline Lucas MP and deputy leader Amelia Womack, cited examples of closed children’s centres, reduced mental health provision and the loss of drug and alcohol services, and how these cuts are causing devastation to communities around the country.
After years of local government cuts, essential frontline services are now threatened in local authorities across the UK – services such as adult social care, looked-after children, domestic abuse survivors, older people and low-income families in crisis.
Councillor Grahame said: “I'd like to thank Caroline Lucas for bringing councillors together from across the country to show the Treasury that cuts to local services are not the fault of errant local councils, but are imposed by national government. Suffering caused locally is found in different forms and places across the country.
“This suffering is most visible in the doorways where people sleep rough. The loss of council housing is a major factor, but so too is the lack of joined-up support for people leaving prison, care, and the armed forces. Restoring services for addiction and mental health would prevent some of the crises that lead to street homelessness, while removing punitive benefit sanctions would reduce the need to beg.”
Caroline Lucas said: “Our party is united in opposition to these planned cuts. Local authorities are already straining under the intense of pressure of year on year cuts and this further squeeze will put frontline services in the firing line. The Government can stop these cuts – and protect these essential local services – but that would mean ending their ideological love-affair with the failed austerity project. We are urging Philip Hammond to safeguard our vital local services from any further harm.”
In December 2017 the Local Government Association – which represents councillors of all parties as well as independents, criticised the government’s continued lack of action on local government funding, stating:
“Local services are facing a £5.8 billion funding gap in 2019/20, as well as a £1.3 billion pressure to stabilise the adult social care provider market today. The additional council tax flexibility – estimated by our analysis to be worth up to £540 million in 2019/20 if all councils use it in both 2018/19 and 2019/20 – is nowhere near enough to meet the funding gap. The Government needs to provide new funding for all councils over the next few years so they can protect vital local services from further cutbacks.
“It is extremely disappointing that the Government has again chosen not to address the continuing funding gap for children’s and adult social care. We have repeatedly warned of the serious consequences of funding pressures facing these services, for both the people that rely on them and the financial sustainability of other services councils provide. An injection of new money from central government is the only way to protect the vital services which care for older and disabled people, protect children and support families.”