Somerset Council Leader Bill Revans has welcomed a letter sent today from more than 40 MPs calling for an urgent rethink on council funding plans.
The letter, from the County Councils Network (CCN) and County All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) has been signed by 46 MPs of different political parties, including two from Somerset – Sarah Dyke and Ian Liddell-Grainger – along with seven former Cabinet Members.
It follows November’s Autumn Statement which provided no new funding for local councils despite concerns raised nationally. The 46 MPs say they are ‘exceptionally concerned’ that residents will be faced with a ‘double whammy’ of reductions in services and higher council tax rates in order for councils to deliver a balanced budget.
Cllr Revans said:
We’ve said the model for funding local government is broken. We’re not alone in making this claim. Here we have support from more than 40 MPs nationally, including two Somerset MPs of different political parties.
The scenario they describe is exactly what is happening in Somerset, where due to soaring costs in social care we have no choice but to consider taking heart-breaking and unprecedented decisions to increase council tax while also reducing non-statutory services.
I strongly support this letter and hope it leads to a meaningful conversation at a national level about funding for local councils.
The group of MPs includes former Local Government Secretary of States Robert Jenrick and Greg Clark, as well as prominent former cabinet members such as Priti Patel, Therese Coffey, Damien Green, and Brandon Lewis. They also include former local government ministers Neil O’Brien, Heather Wheeler, Kit Malthouse, and Jake Berry.
They have called for the government to provide emergency funding for councils to prevent substantial cuts to local services, or worse, some authorities being unable to deliver a balanced budget in 2024/25.
In the letter, they say:
There is still an opportunity to rectify the situation and ensure MPs are able to support the vote on the Local Government Settlement within the House of Commons in early February.
We would therefore urge you to do all you can to use the Final Local Government Finance Settlement to provide additional funding for local government to ensure that the councils in our areas can continue to provide the services that our residents depend upon on a regular basis.