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3rd March 2021

Solace response to Budget 2021

Martin Reeves, Solace spokesperson for Local Government Finance, said: “Managing the major risks facing our economy and supporting some of the sectors under the greatest pressure was always going to be the key focus of this Budget.

“While more money and support for our high streets, businesses and jobs is to be welcomed, along with extra investment in the green agenda, this Budget is still too timid and does not do enough to address the fundamental, underlying issues which are holding our people and places back.

“The Chancellor said we need public finances to be strong so that we are better able to respond and act when the next crisis comes.

“We agree entirely, but that must apply at a local level as a well as a national level. Unfortunately, however, local government once again misses out in this Budget despite the extraordinary events of the last year placing a severe strain on the finances of councils, weakening their ability to address the many inequalities revealed and accentuated by the pandemic.

“Local authorities, like Government departments, are institutions of economic power. If we are going to create thriving local economies, level up communities, tackle inequalities and improve people’s life chances and wellbeing then councils will forever be constrained in their efforts to do all of this without the right financial support.

“The Chancellor has talked about offering ‘openness, honesty and certainty’.

“It is an open secret that the local government finance system, in its current form, is broken. The time is ripe for an open and honest discussion about how to create a truly sustainable system that will help to deliver better outcomes for our communities and stand the test of time, with a key part of this being greater certainty over council funding and in particular a multi-year settlement. But the Government has, once again, kicked the can down the road on this crucial issue.

“As we enter the next phase of the pandemic response, and the recovery from it, we don’t just need a restart but a radical rethink about the way our vital public services are funded.”