Metro mayors, representing a collective population exceeding 8.5 million people nationwide, have united in urging the Government to provide immediate assistance to local authorities teetering on the brink of financial collapse.
Tracy Brabin, the Mayor of West Yorkshire, has spearheaded this initiative, gaining support from the mayors of Greater Manchester, Liverpool City Region, South Yorkshire, North of Tyne, and Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. Together, they have written to Michael Gove, the Local Government Secretary, requesting additional resources for councils facing financial challenges.
This appeal coincides with the imminent release of the next year’s Local Government Finance Settlement by the government, raising concerns about the potential exacerbation of uncertainty surrounding the future of local public services.
The attached letter, endorsed by six metro mayors representing diverse communities across the country, advocates for supplementary financial support. Furthermore, it proposes a set of reforms aimed at fostering fairness and sustainability in local government funding.
The mayors contend that the government must consider escalating costs and heightened demand, especially in areas marked by increased deprivation. Numerous local authorities nationwide have issued warnings about their inability to balance budgets for the coming year, with the looming threat of effective bankruptcy unless governmental support is extended.
According to a survey by the Local Government Association, almost one in five local authorities believes it is fairly or very likely that their chief finance officers will have to declare bankruptcy by issuing a section 114 notice. While some councils have already taken this drastic step, others are on the brink, compelled to implement multimillion-pound cuts to services after a decade of austerity. The Local Government Association has raised alarm about a £3 billion deficit in town hall budgets.
Tracy Brabin, Mayor of West Yorkshire said: “We as Mayors have ambitious plans for our regions but we will never be able to deliver the full potential of devolution while our local authority partners are left on a financial cliff edge.
“We are seeing more demand than ever before for local public services and it is clear more urgent action must be taken.
“Councils across the country are struggling and we are urging the government to do the right thing and step in take action to support them before it’s too late.”