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Government finance settlement is 'slap in the face for residents'

The Leader of Lewes District Council has accused the government of 'ripping the heart out of local services' after the finance settlement for councils was confirmed this week.

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Inflation, the cost of living crisis and temporary accommodation placements due to rising homelessness have left councils across the UK struggling to balance their budgets.

The calls on the government for additional support have increased, yet the Autumn Statement and now the finance settlement have offered little to address the widening gap in funding.

Councillor Zoe Nicholson, said:

"The government doesn't appear to care that their chronic underfunding of local authorities is hitting vulnerable residents more than anyone else.

"We have done so much over recent years to help people through the covid pandemic and the cost of living crisis, but our resources to continue this support are stretched like never before.

"While the finance settlement is the latest slap in the face for residents, I am determined that whatever measures we are forced to take, we will not cut frontline services."

The council will set the budget, including the council tax for 2024/25 in February, but have confirmed that increases in fees and charges for discretionary services are now inevitable.  Among these changes, the current annual cost (£70) of collecting garden waste will increase by £10 next year.

Councillor Nicholson added:

"Any increase in prices is unwelcome, especially now.  But we must prioritise our core services and ensure we can still find ways to help those in most need. 

"Councillors from all political parties and all areas of the UK are saying the same thing, the current funding arrangements are not sustainable.

"The government appears intent on ripping the heart out of local services and unconcerned about the consequences their actions will ultimately have."

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