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22nd November 2023

Solace response to the Autumn Statement

Responding to the Autumn Statement Solace Managing Director Graeme McDonald said: “All the independent analysis shows significant and growing gaps in council budgets, increasing numbers of which are in financial crisis through no fault of their own. A large part of this problem is due to rising demand for adults and, particularly, children’s social care, plus special educational needs and housing services, combined with wider costs driven up by persistently high inflation.

“The result is councils right across the country are having to make drastic cuts to vital services that hard-pressed residents rely upon, much of which reduces peoples’ quality of life and stores up problems and greater costs to the public purse in the future. Worse still, these cuts are a drag on national productivity and force the UK economy to drive with the handbrake on. A fundamental reset of local government finance is required.

“While we welcome announcements which further the expansion of devolution, enable councils to recover more planning costs, and the uplifting of the local housing allowance, sadly the truth is that nothing the Chancellor announced today will change the bigger picture for councils right now. And the projected spending figures for next year onwards are horrifying.

“Talking to our members it is clear many councils are struggling – a recent Solace survey found more than two-fifths (45%) were, in advance of today’s announcement, anticipating at least a large financial gap necessitating significant budget cuts in 2024-25.

“As a result, the Government must address this when it announces detailed funding for councils next month.”