Responding to the Autumn Budget and Spending Review set out by the Chancellor today, Liberal Democrat Leader of the City of York Council Councillor Keith Aspden has hit out at the unfair ‘tax bombshell’ that Government has chosen to pass to local communities.
Whilst there were positive announcements that will support, for example, cultural and hospitality sectors, the Chancellor’s plans will crucially see those struggling the most, pay for the Government’s broken promises.
Councils in England face extra cost pressures of almost £8 billion by 2024/25 just to keep vital local services running at today’s levels, analysis by the Local Government Association warned ahead of the Spending Review. In York, the Council is facing a significant budget gap of £10million next year.
The lack of any meaningful long-term funding announced for local councils or social care will see Councils forced to raise money through the regressive and outdated council tax system to fund social care pressures facing authorities across the country.
Councillor Keith Aspden, Liberal Democrat Council Leader, commented:
“After a decade which has seen council funding cut by 60%, councils were in need of adequate powers and services, as we were already experiencing rising cost and service pressures even before the pandemic. Instead of providing certainty and long term support for local services, from social care to frontline services, the Chancellor has chosen to drop a ‘tax bombshell’ on local communities, who are left to pay the price of Government’s broken promises – through rises in National Insurance as well as regressive council tax.
“This is not just about money, local councils must be empowered by devolved decision-making in areas such as education, skills and planning, which will be key in delivering for our communities.
“Public finances are undoubtedly under huge strain but investment in local services will be vital for our economic and social recovery. Any plan that will see local communities foot the bill by putting the burden on the same people who have been hardest hit by the pandemic is simply regressive and unfair.”
Speaking on the pressures being faced by rising social care costs, Councillor Aspden added:
“Much of what the Government has announced as part of their plan to fix social care, focuses on existing pressures in the NHS and misses one crucial point - a sustainable NHS depends on a sustainable social care system. Most of the money raised through the unfair National Insurance rise won’t even be spent on social care for many years to come, if ever.
“We have seen time and again during the course of the pandemic the enormous contribution adult social care, the NHS and its incredible workforce has made to people, families and communities. There is a long way to go to make social care the best it can be. Without immediate investment we will move backwards, not forwards, with real impact on all councils’ ability to support people to live the life they want to lead.”