Councillor David Sprason Chairman of the UKIP Councillors Association has warned of severe consequences to local services following the Conservative government's budget.
Cllr Sprason said, "Following the chancellor’s autumn budget statement local government has taken the brunt of his funding cuts. Local government will see its grant cut by a further £4.1 billion - 29%, this will mean local government will have seen its grant reduced by a massive 79% by 2020. Transport is the other big loser, as this budget will have been cut by 70% if you take out the cost of HS2 the impact is huge. The only 3 departments that will see an increase are Health (not public health) +10%, Cabinet office +18% and International development (Foreign Aid) +39%".
This will require, for example, Leicestershire County Council, to increase its savings requirement from £80 million to £140 million. The extra impact on the highways & transport department is yet to be understood. The areas that are likely to be subject to cuts are highways maintenance, rural transport, children’s centres, library & museum services, youth services, waste collection and the support to the voluntary sector. The other area that has had a reduction in its grant is the NHS Public Health service.
Cllr Sprason went on, "The impacts of these reductions are yet to be realized but it is likely that prevention services will disappear & social care being furthered rationed leaving vulnerable groups at risk.
"The Chancellor recognised that the gap in funding social care is growing and shifted the funding to local council taxpayers with a 2% ring fenced increase. Should councils accept this your council tax will rise by 4% next year, well above inflation and a further cost burden imposed on local taxpayers".
The Chancellor also announced that government support grant will disappear by 2020 and local councils will be able to retain business rates. It is unclear at this stage how this will work and local government are waiting for further details.
Cllr Sprason said, "It is unlikely that this will address the extra £10 billion demand led cost pressures local authorities face. It is outrageous for the Conservative government to increase foreign aid and funding cabinet office jollies while starving British front line services of much needed funding".