Council Leader Reacts to Spring Statement

RCT Council’s Labour Leader, Councillor Andrew Morgan, has given his reaction to the announcements made by the Tory Chancellor in this week’s Spring Statement.

The RCT Council Leader has long been a vocal opponent of austerity and has previously called on the Conservative Government to change course on the pursuit of cuts that has taken frontline public services to the brink.

Once again, the Tories have failed to ignore the repeated warnings to cough up extra funding for services like healthcare and local government, and instead made vague promises that extra money may be allocated in the autumn.

Councillor Morgan commented: “The Chancellor said that there was now light at the end of the tunnel in the nation’s recovery, although I, and no doubt many of my fellow Council Leaders and public Heads of Service, fail to see it.

This Statement once again smacks of a missed opportunity to reverse the policy of austerity, which has caused incomprehensible damage to many key frontline services, local communities and individual lives. The fact remains that the current climate of cuts is unsustainable and simply cannot continue, and we have already seen the Conservative-run Northamptonshire Council be pushed over the cliff with the Leader resigning.

In addition to the countless doctors, nurses, police officers, the fire service and Councils calling for an end to austerity, we now have economic thinktanks like the London School of Economics stating that other services will soon be following suit.

The Welsh Government have done their utmost to protect Welsh Councils from meeting a similar fate, but those defences can only be maintained for so long and, unless we see a change of course, we could see Local Authorities in Wales going down the same route and that is completely unacceptable. In RCT, we have always tried to manage our finances in a careful and proactive manner, as shown by the £7m efficiency saving we have achieved – which is £1m above our target, and this has shielded our residents and frontline services from the most severe effects of the cuts.

The ongoing Brexit debacle is sure to have an additional impact on Local Government finances in the coming years, and the scandalous allocation of money to the Welsh Government to prepare for leaving the EU reiterates the Tories complete and utter disregard for Wales. Whilst Scotland will get £37.3m to prepare, the Welsh Government is set to receive just £21.4m, despite Wales being the biggest beneficiary of European funding, and the Wales Office allocated just £300,000.

It is time that this Government stops pursuing its disastrous policy and starts listening to the millions of people across the country who are crying out for an end to austerity