Today, the Prime Minister declared and end to austerity and announced that the housing borrowing cap is to be lifted for councils, in her speech at the Conservative Party Conference.
Below, the County Councils Network responds to both announcements.
Cllr Paul Carter, chairman of the County Councils Network and leader of Kent County Council, said:
“If austerity comes to an end, local government must be front of the queue for public spending, particularly county authorities, who are under the most severe financial strain. Councils have contributed more than any other part of the public sector to reducing the deficit and provide the services that matter most to communities; such as supporting the elderly and frail, protecting vulnerable children, and providing the roads and infrastructure that support business and keep our communities moving.
“County local authorities face funding black hole of £1.4bn next year; to fill this funding gap they are likely to earmark some £1bn worth of further cuts and savings. To avoid this, and to allow our councils to invest to improve public services, government should provide significant funding to councils after eight years of austerity.
“The County Councils Network’s unitary members will welcome the lifting of the housing borrowing cap to build more homes. For those district local authorities who may now seek to use these extra borrowing capabilities, the role of county councils in providing vital infrastructure to support housing is now even more important. As the housing minister suggested yesterday, this must come alongside greater strategic planning across larger, county-wide geographies, and we will work with government and district partners to deliver this.”