"Local government services appear to be the hardest hit and yet the coalition government has promised a wave of new localism giving councils and local communities more freedom to decide how local services are delivered. Without adequate resources, this is turning into Hobson’s choice. Councils are still reliant on central government for around 80% of their funds, if we see 28.4% stripped away, alongside imposed freezes on council tax bills, there will be little choice other than to reduce local council services. The harsh reality is that without sufficient local government funding, communities and businesses will suffer devastating consequences."
Key concerns outlined by APSE include:
- A minimum of 490,000 public sector job losses over the next four years. Higher unemployment amongst public sector workers will have a negative impact on both local economies and retail spending both nationally and locally.
- The cuts of around 28.4% which will impact on local economies. APSE research has shown for every £1 spent by councils £1.64 is returned to the local economy. Cuts of this magnitude could fetter local economic recovery in some of the poorest areas most reliant upon public sector spending and hit jobs in local businesses and supply chains reliant upon public sector spending.
- Non-statutory services such as parks and leisure centres may be targeted for closure because these are services councils don’t have to provide. Councils may be forced to ‘de-commission’ non statutory services but these are still highly valued by the public.
The chancellor's claim that spending levels would be taken back to 2008 levels "may be a slightly disingenuous comparison" APSE said, as it fails to account for inflationary factors in goods and services provided by councils who of themselves need to deal with rising prices in certain areas such as fuel and even food price inflation in areas such as school meals.
"Figures are likely to be nearer to 2006 levels not 2008 funding levels".