‘No return to austerity’: Wirral MPs call on government to provide Wirral Council with the funding it needs to deliver local services

In advance of the government’s autumn Budget and Spending Review on 27 October, Wirral MPs, Margaret Greenwood and Angela Eagle, have written to the Chancellor to press him to ensure that Wirral Council gets the funding it needs to protect local services.

Even before the pandemic began local councils like Wirral had experienced deep cuts in funding from central government over the last decade.

According to the National Audit Office (NAO), funding for Wirral Council from central government fell 85% between 2010-11 and 2019-20. Other income such as business rates compensated to some extent, but the overall revenue of the council was still 25% lower in 2019-20 than in 2010-11.

Wirral Council has said that it could face a funding gap in excess of £30m in 2022-23 amidst reports of further cuts to come to the budget for the department for local government in the spending review.

Margaret Greenwood MP commented, “Wirral Council has been on the frontline of the response to the pandemic, but even before the current crisis its finances had been hit hard by deep cuts in government funding over the last decade.

“Services have been put under severe strain, communities have been damaged and the pace and scale of recovery still remains uncertain.

“The government must ensure councils get the funding they need to provide services, protect the vulnerable and rebuild their communities. The very last thing they need is another dose of austerity.”

Despite enormous challenges over the last year, Wirral Council was able to agree a balanced budget for 2021-22 on the assumption of £10.7 million of additional support from the government.

However, the NAO has highlighted that councils’ income from other sources, like leisure services, remains hard to predict for the immediate future.

Wirral council is still waiting for confirmation from the government of:

  • the £10.7 million of additional support for 2021-22
  • whether central government grants to cover lost income and increased costs during the pandemic will continue next year and at what level
  • whether it will receive additional support to offset the impact of the increase in National Insurance
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