Statement: Government budget

Peter Mason, leader of Ealing Council, said; “We need to see the detail behind the Chancellor’s announcement of an extra £4.8billion for local government. My fear is that residents could be kept waiting for a long time before they see any benefit, if at all. 

“We also need to properly understand the impact of the new discounts to business rates. These will be welcome to our struggling high streets, but Government needs to spell out how they are going to compensate councils for the income we will lose because of these changes. Business rates are a major source of council income and my fear is that we won’t be compensated. This could wipe out the £4.8billion extra funding, effectively leaving us back at square one. 

“Local government has been cut to the bone since 2010 and in Ealing alone, we have had a 64% cut to our core government grant over this period, hitting our spending power hard. At the same time, demand for our services is growing and more people in crisis are turning to us for help. 

“We know that a rise in council tax, coming on top of energy price rises and increasing food costs, is a huge worry for local people. We looked for reassurance that the government would not be passing even more costs on to already cash-strapped residents in the form of council tax rises. Sadly, I didn’t see it and I worry for the cost-of-living crisis that lies ahead for many. 

“As we emerge from this terrible pandemic, residents want their lives to return to normal and local government is uniquely placed to support local families to find good jobs and homes while supporting a sustainable and fair local economy, but we need proper government funding to achieve this.”