Revealed - How much your councils have had to scale back because of squeezed government funding
PUBLISHED: 07:30 06 March 2019
More than £100million in savings have been made by Suffolk’s councils in the last four years, it has been revealed, as the extent of funding pressures on the county has been revealed.
Figures presented to the Suffolk Public Sector Leaders meeting on Friday, March 1, revealed that collectively the county, district and borough councils in the county had so far saved more than £100m in the current spending review period, which ends in March 2020.
Council bosses said it showed just how tight local authority budgets had become under the current government, and in a letter penned for local government minister Rishi Sunak urged him to recognise the need for fairer funding.
Arthur Charvonia, chief executive of Babergh and Mid Suffolk district councils, said: “We are more than doing our bit in that regard and we will continue to do so.”
The meeting heard that it was likely councils would start preparing for beyond 2020/21 soon after the May elections and once the indications from central government had been released.
Suffolk County Council leader Matthew Hicks said: “We all have different cost pressures and we will be lobbying [central government] particularly on children’s and adult care.”
Since 2011, Suffolk County Council alone has scaled back by around £250m, resulting in a series of back office savings and frontline cuts.
Its latest budget for 2019/20 will see more than £10m in savings, which includes reduced spending on street lights, winter gritting and out of hours standby support, and ceasing roadside bus timetables and road sign cleaning.
In the letter the Suffolk Public Sector Leaders group is submitting to Mr Sunak under the fair funding review consultation, the group said reforming business rates to allow councils to keep more for their own areas was needed.
The letter also pointed to Babergh and Mid Suffolk’s move to Endeavour House in Ipswich as a key cost saving, as well as the upcoming mergers of Suffolk Coastal and Waveney in becoming East Suffolk Council, and Forest Heath and St Edmundsbury being dissolved to form West Suffolk Council.
The letter added: “The challenges we face in Suffolk relate not just to local government, but also to police and NHS partners.
“Should the overall quantum of funding for public services not be properly addressed then vital services will come under unreasonable pressure.
“We request that the short-term solutions and ‘sticking-plaster’ grant funding be stopped to allow us to take a longer term approach to the planning of local public services.
“It is important that the approach to local government funding is sustainable and stable so councils can develop budget strategies and transform and deliver services in a way which delivers best value for taxpayers.”