Council leaders call on Pickles to provide clarity on local government funding

Interesting article re: future funding in the Local Govt news:

The leaders of three unitary councils have written to local government minister Eric Pickles, urging him to provide certainty over funding.

The leaders of Brighton and Hove City Council, Portsmouth City Council and Southampton City Council argue the current system means council are unable to budget effectively as they do not know how much funding they will receive from Government. They claim this leads to ‘short-term and ill-informed’ decision making.

The council leaders also challenge a number of decisions on local government funding, mainly that councils do not find out what their settlement is for 2013/14 until December. Most councils will have already published draft budgets by that time.

The 2012 CSR suggested that local government funding would be reduced by 0.8% in 2013/14, but Pickles had suggested the reduction might exceed 12% as part of a government consultation on business rates in August.

Leader of Southampton City Council, Richard Williams, said: ‘We acknowledge central government’s approach to reduce public spending but we need some degree of certainty about the level of reduction to be able to plan properly.

‘The difference between cuts of 0.8% and of 12% or more is millions of pounds for our councils. To leave telling councils how much money they will receive so late in the budget process can only lead to rushed decisions. We want to make the right decisions. It is Mr Pickles’ job to help us do this.’

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