THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT finance settlement is the annual determination of funding to local government in England from central government. The provisional settlement for 2022/23 was released on 16 December 2021, and the final settlement is expected to be laid before the House of Commons for its approval in early 2022.
Responding to the provisional settlement, Cllr James Jamieson, Chairman of the Local Government Association, said: “It is good that government has listened to our call to publish the provisional settlement ahead of the Christmas period. This provides certainty on the allocation of the £1.6 billion for councils in the next year as announced in the Spending Review.
“The increase in grant together with council tax raising powers confirmed today, will support councils to meet extra cost and demand-led pressures next year to keep providing services at pre-pandemic levels.
“However, for that to happen every council will have to raise council tax by the maximum next year. This leaves them facing the tough choice about whether to increase council tax bills to bring in desperately-needed funding at a time when they are acutely aware of the significant burden that could place on some households.
“While the additional funding for adult and children’s social care is good, it will not go far enough in addressing the very real existing pressures these vital services face.
“With the spread of Omicron, Covid-19 pressures are intensifying and costs are rising, underlining the urgency for government to extend outbreak funding for councils beyond March, to tackle rising cases and meet a surge in demand for local contact tracing.
“The public health grant also needs to be published as soon as possible, so councils know how much they can budget for essential services to help keep people healthy throughout their lives, including for treating drug misuse and tackling obesity.
“Following today’s provisional settlement, the Government should now provide clarity on which local government funding reforms will happen and when. It needs to push ahead with the Fair Funding Review, including looking both at the data and the formulas used to distribute funding. We look forward to resuming our work with the Government on the Review to ensure overall local government funding is sufficient when any funding distribution changes are introduced and that no council sees its funding reduce as a result.
“While funding reforms make it difficult for a government to set out a multi-year settlement for local government, this is the fourth one-year settlement in a row for councils which continues to hamper financial planning and their financial sustainability. Only with adequate long-term resources, certainty and freedoms, can councils deliver world-class local services for our communities, tackle the climate emergency, and level up all parts of the country.”
* A Local Government Association Briefing on the provisional settlement is available here.
* Source: Local Government Association