'It is time to truly end austerity': Hartlepool Borough Council leader calls for fair funding deal from Government

Coun Christopher Akers-Belcher, leader of Hartlepool Borough Council.
Coun Christopher Akers-Belcher, leader of Hartlepool Borough Council.

Hartlepool Borough Council leader calling on Government Minister to provide enough funding to local authorities to avoid a collapse in services for vulnerable people.

Councillor Christopher Akers-Belcher has signed a letter calling for tomorrow’s Provisional Local Government Finance Settlement for 2019/20 to provide the funding necessary to avoid a collapse in key council services.

Housing, Communities and Local Government Secretary James Brokenshire arrives in Downing Street in London for a meeting of the Cabinet. Picture: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire.

Housing, Communities and Local Government Secretary James Brokenshire arrives in Downing Street in London for a meeting of the Cabinet. Picture: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire.

Coun Akers-Belcher says the caouncil has seen its funding cut by 45% since 2013/14 and added: “It is time to truly end austerity in Local Government.”

He is one of 80 council leaders to sign a letter to the Communities Secretary James Brokenshire.

The letter says: “After eight years of austerity, many councils have reached breaking point and council budgets are perilously close to collapse.

“Austerity has already caused huge damage to communities up and down the UK, with devastating effects on key public services that protect the most defenceless in society: children at risk, disabled adults, and vulnerable older people.

Hartlepool Civic Centre

Hartlepool Civic Centre

“Attempts to protect these demand-led services from the worst of the funding cuts are leading to even deeper reductions to services that everyone relies on like street cleaning, libraries, and children’s centres, and to many of the preventative services that previously reduced the pressure on the NHS and police.

“We are writing to you because as leaders of many of our country’s towns and cities it is our responsibility to speak up for the communities we represent. As Communities Secretary it is your responsibility to deliver the funding that councils need to avoid collapse.”

Councillor Christopher Akers-Belcher, the leader of Hartlepool Borough Council, said: “2019/20 will be the ninth consecutive year of funding cuts from Central Government and Hartlepool Borough Council will be receiving nearly £21 million less Government funding than it was in 2013/14 – a reduction of 45%

“As reported in previous years, the cut in government funding has had a disproportionate impact on areas of higher levels of deprivation and need such as Hartlepool which I believe to be unfair.

“The Government’s grant settlement also continues to shift the cost of funding local services from the Government grant onto council tax.

“Like all my colleagues who have signed this letter to the Communities Secretary, I believe the Local Government Finance Settlement for 2019/20 should be used as an opportunity by the Government to clear up the continued uncertainty that local authorities are facing.

“It is time to truly end austerity in Local Government.”