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18th December 2023

Solace statement on Local Government Finance Settlement

In response to the 2023 Local Government Finance Settlement, Patrick Melia, Solace spokesperson for Finance, said: “Seeing the local government financial settlement, despite the best efforts of civil servants, once again published in the last week before Christmas is not helpful. But even less welcome is the content of the settlement.

“Local authorities right across England are facing unprecedented financial pressures – and all the independent analysis makes clear that the problems are systemic, in particular due to rising demand for adults and children’s social care, special educational needs provision and housing services, all accentuated by inflation. The ever-growing number of councils issuing or warning of forthcoming s114 notices underlines the peril we face. Without a genuinely sustainable financial settlement for the sector, it won’t be long before a stream of well-managed authorities start to tip over the edge.

“The bare fact is there are very few savings options left. And the cuts that councils are now making to their services in order to remain financially sustainable are only storing up trouble for years ahead – reducing quality of life for our residents in the here and now, but also leading to increasingly complex social problems that cost the public purse much more in the long-run. Even worse, the chronic underfunding of our services and our areas will negatively impact our national economic prospects at a time when an upswing in productivity and growth is much needed.

“Looking ahead, whoever forms the next government must think more long-term and move towards a more sustainable local government finance system, including a minimum three-year financial settlement to allow for more effective planning. It must also close the persistent and growing funding gaps in both adult and children’s social care and provide additional funding to cover the cost of inflation and higher than expected pay awards for council workforces. Anything less and the cost for the country in years to come will be even higher.”