OnTheWight always welcomes a Letter to the Editor to share with our readers – unsurprisingly they don’t always reflect the views of this publication. If you have something you’d like to share, get in touch and of course, your considered comments are welcome below.
This letter from Geoff Brodie, (Independent Labour) IW Councillor for Newport East. Ed
Back in March the Government said it would do “whatever it takes” to support Councils, but there is an impending funding crisis in towns and cities across Britain, including the Isle of Wight.
Since 2010 over £16 billion has been cut by the Government from local government funding – even while demand for essential services has increased. The Tory/Lib Dem Coalition Government (2010-2015) and the Tory Government (2015-today) consistently tried to shift the blame for their cuts onto local councils.
Council budgets were already at breaking point
Before the Coronavirus crisis too many council budgets were at breaking point. In England councils had lost 60% of the funding they receive from government.
Even with a modest increase in funding in the last budget, the Local Government Association’s assessment was that Councils faced a further funding gap of £6.5 billion by 2024 just to keep current service levels, even with two per cent council tax increases.
Government promise to Councils
The costs to Councils of doing ‘whatever it takes’ to tackle Coronavirus has made a difficult budget situation even worse.
At the beginning of the crisis the Government explicitly promised Councils that they would receive ALL the support they needed to protect their communities and asked them to set aside financial concerns to help the national effort to beat the virus.
New wave of cuts
However, without urgent support, local Councils will be forced to introduce a new wave of cuts and be unable to reopen key services. The LGA estimates that councils face extra budget shortfalls of around £10 billion.
The IW Council has declared a £10.8 million black hole to date and we are far from though the crisis.
Key services will be affected
This will do further damage to key services such as social care and risks social care services closing, leisure centres never reopening, street lights being turning off and bins going uncollected.
Given Councils must balance their budgets each year there is an urgent need for this Government to stick to its promises and fund Councils for the extra Coronavirus expenditure and lost income.
Anything less will be a betrayal
The Isle of Wight Council and our MP, Bob Seely, must demand that their Government keeps its promises – to provide emergency support for the IW Council and to do whatever it takes to support families and communities. Anything less will be a betrayal.