Read our reaction below on the one-year Spending Review statement delivered by the Chancellor.
Responding to the Spending Review, Liberal Democrat Leader of the City of York Council Cllr Keith Aspden commented:
“At a time when councils across the country are experiencing greater financial pressures than ever, after £15 billion of central government funding cuts over the last decade, we continue to deliver services which have been absolutely crucial to the response of the challenges brought about by the pandemic, to protect lives and livelihoods.
“In March the communities secretary promised to stand behind councils and cover the cost that the pandemic was expected to bring on to local services. Ever since then the Government has been rowing back on that promise.
“Councils are now facing around a £4billion shortfall in finances, and York is no different – the Council has seen demand for services increase as central funding has continued to be diverted away from local services. Local Government Association estimates that £8.7 billion are needed for Councils to plug funding gaps, meet demand pressures and improve services next year. Future provision of vital services cannot be provided with patch-work support - a long-term solution to the current funding crisis is urgently needed.
“Councils, such as York, have been instrumental in helping our communities through the pandemic. This won't change as we enter the next phase. Councils will continue to face demand pressures on their day-to-day services, some pre-existing, others made more significant by the lasting impact of COVID-19.
“As the focus shifts towards how we build back better, the Government is forcing councils to find further major savings to already stretched budgets next year, whilst we are choked off from being able to act locally to restore local economies and rebuild communities as a result.
“Following these announcements, I will be writing to the Government with colleagues from all political parties across the country to once again outline the urgency of the comprehensive financial support the local authorities require, as we continue to face unprecedented challenges to the delivery of vital services.”
Cllr Andrew Waller, Executive Member for Economy and Strategic Planning, added:
“Today’s announcement, although featuring some positive investment in public services and infrastructure, fails to set out an approach to the recovery strategy, which would invest in our future to not only save but create a long term economic recovery based on well-paid jobs.
“Locally, we continue to work with businesses and key city partners to address the immediate challenges facing York’s businesses. Whilst our focus is on providing vital immediate support, there is also a push on developing a longer-term approach to local growth, which prioritises our long-established focus on developing higher paid jobs in key sectors across the economy and developing an approach to inclusive and green growth across our economy.
“The North of England has been disadvantaged on investment which has gone to the South due to the way the rules were operating from the “Treasury Green Book”, so the new ‘Levelling up’ fund plans are welcome, but we need to see this translated into real change, delivering better transport and infrastructure investment in our region.
“For decades Central Government in England has pulled funding and decision making away from the regions and councils. These proposals do not go far enough to address this when you contrast the devolution deals in place for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
“Protecting jobs, and helping new employment to grow is a key priority, but the Chancellor has not faced up to the scale of the challenge faced by many businesses in York, for whom the impact of the pandemic is being compounded by Brexit uncertainties.
“Councils and businesses had urged the Government to deliver comprehensive support in this time of crisis, unfortunately, the plans set out by the Chancellor today, have failed to address these calls.”