Councils fear being unable to deliver balanced budgets in 2019-20, survey reveals

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28th June 2018 15:17 - Local Government

Councils fear being unable to deliver balanced budgets in 2019/20:   Almost twenty per cent of council leaders polled in a County Councils Network (CCN) survey said they are ‘not confident’ in being able to deliver balanced budgets in coming years, without additional funding from the Government. 
The CCN survey revealed that almost one in five council leaders polled (17%) said that although they are confident in delivering balanced books this year, they do not have the same confidence when it comes to next year’s outlook. This is despite a legal obligation to do so. 
A further 19% could not say whether or not they could deliver a balanced budget in 2019/20, remaining ‘neutral’ on the matter. 
Looking further into the future, confidence among council leaders drops even further, with 66% polled ‘not confident’ they will be in a position to deliver balanced budgets in 2020/21, without additional funding. That means that just one third have confidence they can make it work if things stay unchanged. 
This comes as a separate budget survey, carried out by the Society of County Treasurers, reveals over the next couple of years 37 councils are facing funding pressures of £3.2 billion. 
In order to deliver balanced budgets, county councils are appealing to the Government for more funding in the shorter term, saying they cannot afford to wait for the Spending Review. 
“A long-term funding shake-up is long overdue – and a short-term cash injection is required so councils can keep their heads above water,” said CCN finance spokesman, Cllr Nick Rushton.
Rushton, who is also the leader of Leicestershire County Council, said that without additional capital, “the consequences could be dire”. 
“The government is aware that some councils are already teetering on the edge. And the stark reality is they cannot wait for the comprehensive Spending Review.” 

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