Earlier this year I joined the Housing, Communities and Local Government Select Committee, and this week the committee published its report on Local Government finance and the 2019 Spending review.
When I first became a Councillor in 2006, under a Labour Government, Councils were funded to meet the needs of their populations. Since 2010 however, Councils have seen their grant from Central Government slashed, and their spending power has reduced by a quarter.
Meanwhile the demand for services has been growing faster than our population – people are living longer, but not necessarily healthier lives, and the numbers of looked after children are increasing each year (by 27% over the last decade in fact).
Many Councils are left with no choice but to cut non-statutory services, and Local Authorities up and down the country are struggling to cope with the rising demands of social care with much less money than they once had. Hard working council staff are under extreme pressure and morale is low.
This report sets out the current challenges very clearly, and gives a number of recommendations. I hope the Government will take heed because our Councils are on the brink of collapse.