Layla Moran has said a “plan is needed urgently” to “save local councils from the brink”, after the National Audit Office published a report warning that local authorities will be under serious financial pressure in 2021-22 and urgently need reassurance from the government on further funding or support.
94% of single-tier and county councils and 81% of district councils who responded to the NAO’s survey expected to reduce service budgets in 2021-2022.
Layla said the Government “cannot hide” from the need for further financial support and certainty for our councils. Last year, she joined cross-party calls for a long-term funding settlement to be made for councils, which face significant shortfalls and uncertainty.
In their report, the NAO warn that examples given to them by local authorities of services that will need to be reviewed in the wake of financial shortfalls include adult social care, special education needs packages and library opening hours. Leisure and arts facilities are also at risk.
In April last year, the leaders of all six Oxfordshire councils wrote jointly to the Government calling on them to ensure further support was provided to meet their funding shortfall. Without this support, they warned, authorities across Oxfordshire would become financially unsustainable with depleted or no reserves.
Layla said "the new NAO report “should serve as a warning to the Government that unless immediate action is taken, our councils and local services won’t be the same for years to come.”
Commenting on the report, Layla said: “This report should serve as a warning to the Government that unless immediate action is taken, our councils and local services won’t be the same for years to come. Vulnerable people in particular rely on services provided by our local authorities - without an urgent long-term financial settlement, our community will suffer."
"The Government cannot hide from this. The warning from our council leaders last year, across party lines, wasn’t listened to and now we know what the consequences will be. Everything from our leisure and community arts centres to adult social care is under threat because of the financial shortfall and the sheer uncertainty.
“A plan is needed urgently to save local councils from the brink. They are unable to plan ahead and work on projects that would help generate income. That plan must include a long-term financial settlement that addresses the funding shortfall and gives our local authorities the certainty they badly need.”