Philip Glanville, Mayor of Hackney, responds to the Government’s Spending Review, announced by the Chancellor in the House of Commons this afternoon.

Council staff worked hard during the first national lockdown to ensure that those that needed help got it. Between March and July, this included: 

  • 600 volunteers deployed
  • 800,000 items of PPE issued to staff and external providers (including individual items, ie each glove)
  • 14,000 emergency food parcels delivered
  • 7,300 calls made to vulnerable tenants and leaseholders
  • 170 rough sleepers in off the streets
  • £62.5million in government grants paid to nearly 4,300 businesses
  • 7 pavements widened/6 roads closed to aid social distancing
  • over 1,500 laptops sent to students that need them
  • £62,000 in council rent relief for voluntary and community organisations

The Council is currently forecasting a £20.5million shortfall from Council Tax and Business Rates income, which would affect its 2021/22 budget. The Chancellor has only committed to cover 75% of this lost income – leaving the Council with great uncertainty.

Council finances have been cut over a decade of Government-led austerity, and local authorities have already faced difficult decisions about services. Hackney has lost £140m in government funding since 2010 – £1,459 a year per household and the most of any London borough. We’ve addressed this huge challenge by, among other things, reducing management and back office staff, investing in services to reduce costs in the long term, bringing services back in-house and renegotiating contracts. This prudent financial management means the Council is still managing to deliver good services – but the huge impact of coronavirus on already stretched budgets means this won’t be possible in the future.

Ministers have rightly postponed their Fair Funding Review until next year. This review will reset how local government grants are awarded, and analysis has suggested that the process will divert funding away from areas with high deprivation and need – such as Hackney – to areas with ‘remoteness’ and longer travel times, helping county councils. Although the review has been delayed until 2021, it could mean huge long-term cuts to the Council’s budget, making it more difficult to provide essential services. 

Hackney Council believes that local government grants should be awarded based on deprivation and need of communities, not by a one-size-fits-all formula based on population. We will continue to campaign for any review to put this principle at its heart. 

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