To: Councillors, MPs, Trade Unionists, political activists, local communities
No to local government austerity - cancel debt, needs-based funding, grants to build council housing
We call on the government to:
1) Honour its commitment to fully fund councils for the extra costs of dealing with the pandemic and lost revenue resulting from the lock-down.
2) Cancel local authority debt held by the Public Works Loans Board, providing councils with an extra £4.5 billion spending power a year. This would include at least £1.25 billion a year extra for housing revenue accounts which would help to address their under-funding and the big backlog of work resulting from the lock-down.
3) Provide councils with £10 billion grant a year to build social rent council housing, in order to address the housing crisis and provide work for the unemployed.
4) Open urgent negotiations on “a new financial settlement for local government” with funding based on social needs in each local authority area, with an annual assessment to take account of inflation.
Why is this important?
After 10 years of austerity and the unprecedented impact of the pandemic, local government faces an existential crisis. As the CEO of CIPFA said, “councils face a tsunami of increased costs and falling revenues”. According to the Local Government Association they need at least an extra £7.4 billion more than the government's emergency funding so far, just to get by this year.
With councils warning of having to declare section 114 notices (indicating they have insufficient income to cover their costs) we face a new phase of local government austerity unless councils are funded adequately. Council services and some councils are on the verge of collapse. Cuts to jobs and services could be worse than under Osborne. Some 'key workers' will be thanked for their efforts in the pandemic with redundancy notices. More people who desperately need services will go without. It is critical that we prevent a new phase of local government austerity being implemented.
This petition has been launched by the Labour Campaign for Council Housing. We have previously initiated a campaign for the cancellation of local authority debt. So far 16 council leaders (see list below) have signed our original statement: https://cancel-local-authority-debt.org/our-statement/
As Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees has said debt cancellation should be part of the funding solution for local authorities.
List of Council leaders who have signed the statement: Amber Valley, Birmingham, Bristol, Cheshire West & Chester, Corby, Ealing, Halton, Kirklees, Leicester, Liverpool, Luton, Milton Keynes, Norwich, Preston, Stroud, Wirral. The deputy leader of Leeds has also signed.
You can visit the website: https://cancel-local-authority-debt.org
The Labour Campaign for Council Housing's main website can be found at: