Tory run councils warn Rishi Sunak of possible bankruptcy

Both councils face budget deficits over the next few years “of a scale that has never been seen before”.

Sunak PMQS

Two Tory-run councils have warned Prime Minister Rishi Sunak that they face the very real risk of bankruptcy as a result of soaring inflation and rising pressures in adult and children’s social care.

The warning, from Two of England’s largest Tory-run local authorities, comes ahead of Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s Autumn statement on Thursday, where he is expected to announce up to £50bn of public spending cuts and tax hikes in a bid to plug a ‘fiscal black hole’.

The leaders of Kent and Hampshire County Councils wrote a scathing letter to Sunak, warning that they were on the path to ‘financial disaster’ and that the government had a choice, to either fund councils properly or change the law to ‘remove the “outdated and under-resourced” legal obligation on town halls to provide services such as libraries and home-to-school transport’, the Guardian has reported.

Their letter comes as the Tories prepare to impose a third wave of austerity across the country, which has seen council budgets slashed amid spending cuts and now their costs soar as a result of inflation.

Both councils face budget deficits over the next few years “of a scale that has never been seen before”.

Kent leader, Roger Gough, and Hampshire leader, Rob Humby, wrote in their joint letter: “The problem is simple: the additional money that we can raise from council tax and business rates barely covers the normal inflationary pressures that we face each year. This leaves significant growth, particularly in adults’ and children’s social care, totally unfunded.

“Without a fundamental change either in the way in which these two services are funded, or in our statutory obligations, all of upper-tier local government will soon go over the cliff edge.”

England’s largest councils warned last month that “any moves to cut their budgets next year would be ‘worse than austerity’ and result in ‘devastating’ reductions to local services – with local authorities offering just the bare minimum”, the County Councils Network has reported.

Rather than imposing spending cuts which will once more disproportionally impact the poorest and most vulnerable, Sunak could choose to tax wealth and static assets at a higher rate, but given his Thatcherite leanings, there’s not much hope that will happen.

Basit Mahmood is editor of Left Foot Forward

(Picture credit: Youtube Screengrab)

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