Council funding gaps must be closed

£3bn council funding blackhole from pandemic will ‘tear communities apart’ unless fixed

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A £3 billion council funding blackhole caused by the cost of the pandemic will ‘tear communities apart’ unless it is fixed, Unite, which represents thousands of local authority workers, said today (July 9).

Responding to a BBC investigation that found 170 councils in the UK are facing a total funding shortfall of £3 billion by 2023-24, Unite national officer for local authorities Jim Kennedy said, “For 10 years Tory austerity policies unleashed cuts upon cuts upon cuts on local authorities. Services that hold communities together and are a lifeline for poorer and more vulnerable members of society were slashed.

“Libraries were closed, swimming pools were emptied, after school clubs were shut, support for the disabled disappeared, 15-minute care calls for the elderly become the norm – the list goes on and on,” he added.

“Those cuts have eroded social cohesion and made Britain more fragmented and a much less happy place for millions of people,” Kennedy continued. “Now post-pandemic council deficits threaten to compound the situation and risk tearing communities apart if not dealt with.

“The impact on council workers, the majority of whom are already underpaid and overworked, should not be overlooked.

“This BBC investigation reconfirms that the UK’s councils are staring down the barrel of a gun. Ministers need to realise that functioning local government is part of the lifeblood of democracy and ensure that services are repaired, and funding gaps closed.”

By Ryan Fletcher

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