“It will come as a relief to most local authorities that the planning assumptions underpinning the budget proposals they have already had to go out to public consultation on are not significantly challenged by the provisional settlement. It is positive that the Government has recognised the importance of continuity and will not be making changes to New Homes Bonus in the coming year. That said, the continued reliance on the council tax precept to plug the gap in adult social care is of grave concern. It does not provide any kind of long term fix and only seeks to further distort an already regressive tax mechanism.
The commitment to enable local government to retain 75 per cent of business rates from 2020/21 and the establishment of a number of new pilots are steps toward shifting power in a local direction. However, as a mechanism, business rates are based on anachronous assumptions about the nature of local economies, and, alongside council tax, contribute to what operates as an outdated, unbalanced and ineffective funding system overall. We must work together to understand what a more sustainable future for our public services might look like, and ensure that councils and local partners have the levers needed to make that happen without delay.
Without certainty, stability and stability for local government’s financial base, the public services that our communities rely on will continue to be facing a cliff edge and public money will be spent without the ability to plan effectively for the long term.”