At the start of the pandemic, the government told councils to do whatever it takes to combat the virus – and we were promised full compensation.
This is what we were hoping would be included in the Chancellor’s spending review. Unfortunately, the government has not delivered.
There were some positives announced that provide us with more certainty for the coming year including increases in adult social care funding and money to help us offer discounted council tax to vulnerable residents.
We also welcome the Levelling Up Fund, the cut in the Public Works Loan Board lending rate and road repairs investment.
However, the spending review does not address the major funding issues local government faces.
Coronavirus has cost local councils more than £11 billion this year and the government has refunded less than half that.
This spending review has done nothing to fundamentally change the fact that councils will be forced to make severe cuts in 2021 to balance their books.
Instead of supporting local taxpayers, the spending review has dropped a £1 billion council tax bombshell on them – the only major tax rise announced.
The government expects us to increase council tax bills by 5 per cent next year when many are struggling to hold on to their jobs and cover their rent, bills and basic living costs.
There was still no clear plan for the future of adult social care and how we pay for it in the future, despite the Prime Minister’s promises.
There was no new public health funding and there were no commitments to address health inequalities.
This spending review provided one last bitter pill to swallow – a pay freeze for public sector workers.
Despite the Chancellor clapping for key workers during the pandemic, his government has frozen the pay packets of teachers, nurses and care workers.
Is this how we show our appreciation for our key workers who helped keep our society going this year?
This is not the spending review any of us were hoping for but I will work constructively and cross-party to urge government to improve the funding situation for local authorities.
Councillor Nancy Platts is the leader of the Labour opposition on Brighton and Hove City Council.
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