Seven in ten councils are unsure if they can balance their 2024 budget, recent survey finds

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19th March 2024 18:27 - Financial Services

Seven in ten councils are unsure if they can balance their 2024 budget: A recent survey has found that 7 in 10 councils are unsure if they can balance their 2024 budget due to increasing financial pressures. Before the 2023 Autumn Statement, just 4 in 10 of the councils surveyed said they weren’t confident they could balance their budget but this has now risen to 7 in 10.

The snap survey was carried out by the County Councils Network (CNN), to understand the impact of the economic pressures affecting the United Kingdom throughout 2023 and into 2024 on councils. It has found that local authorities are now planning more severe cuts because of their financial situation

Further survey insights revealed that 5 in 10 councils are now planning for even more reductions to services as a result of the Autumn Statement and 9 in 10 suggest they will now levy maximum council tax rises of 4.99%. Additionally, 9 in 10 of England’s largest councils say they are in a “significantly worse” financial position, compared to early 2023.

When asked about service reductions, 7 in 10 councils said they were likely to propose staff reductions and just under half of the respondents said council tax increases were likely to happen. In addition, 5 in 10 councils admitted they are now more likely to temporarily stop or cancel major economic growth and regeneration projects – this includes leisure centres, libraries and recycling/waste centres closing or having new opening/closing hours.

In response to the survey findings, Barry Lewis, the finance spokesperson for CCN, said: “The majority of the County Councils Network’s member councils will now have no choice but to increase their planned level of service reductions, reduce investment on growth-creating capital projects, and levy higher council tax rises: all of which impact our residents”

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