Boroughs Will Be Forced to ‘Cut to the Bone’

London Councils response to the Autumn Statement

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London Councils

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The depth and severity of the cuts to local government budgets in London will become acute over the next year, London Councils has warned on the day of the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement.

In its submission to the Treasury, London Councils says that between 2010 and 2016 funding for councils has almost halvedand reiterates its call for devolution to the Mayor and the boroughs and a fairer deal for London government.

Combined with a rapidly increasing demand for local services due to a growing and ageing population, the funding reductions mean that London’s boroughs will be underfunded by £3.4 billion by the end of this decade. The number of staff directly employed by London boroughs has fallen by 30,000 since 2010, while the number of staff employed by central government has increased during the same period.

Mayor Jules Pipe, Chair of London Councils, said: “Boroughs have made massive efficiency savings and strived over the past four years to protect services, yet we are only now half way through the cuts and more reductions in funding will ultimately hit front-line services, local employment and valued community facilities. Many boroughs will be forced to cut to the bone if the Government continues to make these levels of annual cuts up to 2020.”

The submission also makes it clear that the way local services in London are funded is not sustainable and calls on the Chancellor to protect boroughs from further cuts in addition to those already set out in last year’s spending round. It challenges the government to adopt a more ambitious approach to devolving power in order to deliver integrated and cost-effective public services.

Mayor Pipe added: “It is unfair to Londoners that boroughs continue to shoulder a bigger share of responsibility than central government for reducing the UK deficit.

“We are better at joining up local services than Whitehall, addressing causes rather than treating symptoms. Centrally controlled services must be devolved to the Mayor and the boroughs here in London at the same time as they are to the great Northern cities.”

London Councils, which represents all 32 boroughs and the City of London, is calling for the devolution and reform of responsibilities including skills, employment support, supporting people with complex dependencies, housing and health. Despite London’s economic success there are 465,000 people in the capital who are long-term unemployed, or who are economically inactive but want to work.

December 12, 2014