The shocking fact behind our financial challenge
The shocking fact behind our financial challenge

Today the Chancellor Jeremy Hunt revealed the Government Budget.

Announcements included a welcome extension to the Household Support Fund. It supports over 9000 families in St Helens borough, so it is good news it has been extended, but bad news it’s only for another 6 months. There was also good news with confirmation that Newton-le-Willows is to receive £20m town funding. We await further information but it’s very welcome and we will do all we can to keep the community in Newton informed and involved in the process.

That said, it was disappointing that there was no acknowledgement in the government’s budget of the financial challenges facing councils.

Capital funding like that we’ve got for Newton is welcome, but we can’t run essential services with it. The shocking fact that they’ve cut revenue funding for our borough by £117m a year since 2010 tells you everything you need to know about the Tories and their priorities, and most other councils are facing similar difficulties.

In their response to the Tory budget the cross party Local Government Association (which represents councils in England and Wales) said:

“It is disappointing that the Government has not announced measures to adequately fund the local services people rely on every day. Councils continue to transform services but, given that core spending power in 2024/25 has been cut by 23.3 per cent in real terms compared to 2010/11, it is unsustainable to expect them to keep doing more for less in the face of unprecedented cost and demand pressures.

“Councils of all political colours are starting this financial year in a precarious position, and having to scale back or close a wide range of local services, so the continued squeeze in public spending in the years ahead is a frightening prospect for communities.”

We hope all councillors of all political parties would recognise and agree with those words. Yet again, public services and ordinary working people have been let down.

Analysis by the Institute for Fiscal Studies after the budget confirms that those on under £25k a year will lose more from the frozen income tax thresholds than they gain from the national insurance cuts.

If families are fortunate enough to feel any benefit of small tax cuts after years of record tax and price rises, they will also most certainly continue to feel the difficulty of getting a GP or NHS dentist appointment. They’ll feel the frustration of fewer police on their streets and more classrooms and schools going without essential staff and resources. And they’ll feel and see local councils continuing to be forced into cutting services. All this because of the Tory government, their priorities, and their decisions.

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