Agenda item

LGA Save Local Services Campaign


Councillor Jacobs presented his motion on notice and said he was removing item 3c from the motion.


Councillor Jacobs said that he knew there were huge funding pressures on local government which could not be met alone through making savings or raising council tax. He said that the motion called for adequate funding for councils in line with inflation and there needed to be a long-term plan for local government funding from the government as inflation would not come down overnight, reserves could only be spent once and services could not be cut twice. He hoped that by joining the Local Government Association’s campaign, the collective voice of councils would be greater, and he wanted to raise the issue on behalf of residents.


Councillor Clements seconded the motion and reserved his right to speak.


Councillor E Buckmaster said he was happy to support the motion. He gave some context around a review of capital projects and identifying any savings. He said that the projects currently being delivered were conceived in 2014 and an ageing leisure service meant it would have been more expensive to maintain and they were investments intended to pay their way.


Councillor Goldspink said she was happy to support the motion and said she had found it very frustrating as a councillor to want to do good but not have enough money.


Councillor Dumont said that according to the National Audit Office since 2010, Council Tax revenue has had a 20% increase, grant funding had reduced by 60% and spending power had reduced by 30%. He said this had to change and it was depressing as councillors to want to do good but instead were being asked what we could stop doing.


Councillor Brittain thanked Councillor Jacobs for his motion and said he agreed wholeheartedly. He said his only concern was that he was not convinced the government would listen.


Councillor Hart said there could be a point where the Council could not discharge its statutory duties and said the Council could not function if the funding was not sufficient.


Councillor Deering said the Conservative group were completely aware of the pressures faced having set four budgets in the previous administration. He said it was very challenging to run a local authority at the moment and he supported the motion.


Councillor Williams queried the title of the motion which stated ‘Labour motion’. He said other motions did not have party headings.


The Head of Legal and Democratic Services said that it was just to indicate who had brought the motion. He said if the motion was passed then it would be a motion of the Council, not the Labour Group.


Councillor Crystall said he was happy to support the motion and said this had been raised at the LGA Independent Group and had been supported there.


Councillor Clements said it was no secret that the Council faced tough financial decisions but a large part of the decisions were made by the government. He said Councils of all colours were struggling and said he was pleased to see all Members supporting this and using their influence to pressure the government.


The motion to support the motion, including the removal of point 3c, having been proposed and seconded was put to the meeting and upon a vote being taken, was declared CARRIED.


RESOLVED – that Council notes the Save Local Services campaign by the Local Government Association (LGA) which calls on the Government to ensure councils have adequate resources to meet ongoing cost and demand pressures, protect local services from cutbacks and invest in improving the services our communities rely on.

LGA analysis[1] revealed that Councils in England face a funding gap of almost £3 billion over the next two years just to maintain services at current levels. Over the last decade, Councils have seen significant cuts in core funding from the government. More recently, inflation has increased costs on core services and pushed up interest rates on existing borrowing. Councils led by parties across the political spectrum have had to issue section 114 notices announcing that they are unable to meet spending commitments.

In East Herts these pressures mean that savings of over £6m are needed by the end of the 2026-27 financial year to balance revenue and expenditure[2]. Residents’ finances are already under huge pressure due to the cost-of-living crisis and any decisions made to balance the budget must prioritise the needs of the most vulnerable people in East Herts.

Council believes that the LGA is right to warn that the financial sustainability of councils and local services are at risk. The impact of inflation in the economy, cuts to funding and increasing demand pressures cannot alone be met by further reducing costs, making efficiencies, or raising council tax. Reserves held by Councils can only be spent once and are not a solution to the long-term financial pressures faced. Local government needs adequate funding to provide the services our communities rely on.

Council therefore resolves to:

1.         Conduct its budget setting operation for 2024/25 with the above principles in mind, considering the need to protect core services and to prioritise the needs of the most vulnerable in East Herts;

2.         Review all of its capital projects with the intention of identifying possible savings;

3.         Support the Save Local Services campaign and call on government to:

a.          Put local government finances on a sustainable footing.

b.         Provide adequate, long-term funding, in line with inflation and demand for services, giving Councils certainty to plan their budgets and minimise service disruption.

4.         Instruct the Leader of the Council to write to government, local MPs and the LGA to communicate council’s views on this issue.




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