LEICESTER’S City Mayor Sir Peter Soulsby has written to the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities to warn that the city council will struggle to balance its books in the next 18 months unless there is a change to Government funding.
In his letter to Michael Gove, Sir Peter said: “Hardly a week goes by without a local authority warning that it faces financial crisis and the equivalent of bankruptcy, were it a private company. Thanks to extremely prudent financial management we are not there yet, but without a serious rethink from the Government we are rapidly running out of options.”
Like other councils across the country, Leicester City Council is facing huge cost increases for social care, with more adults needing support with day-to-day living, and more children needing care. Social care services in the city are on course to cost an extra £50m a year by 2025. The council also faces cost increases from the recent rise in inflation.
Sir Peter added: “The pressures on social care are huge and are being experienced by all authorities. I don’t believe that the Government has the slightest awareness of the impact the rise in costs will have on councils. Indeed, we have been warned to expect a further round of austerity in 2025, which would be disastrous.
“Previous Government cuts have forced us to reduce spending on our other services by 50%. I now fear for the future of services such as parks, sports, museums, libraries, cultural services and community centres – indeed all those services that make our city a pleasant place to live.
“Without more Government money, these services face savage cutbacks, and Leicester faces the real prospect that the council will join the ranks of those receiving a section 114 notice before we can set the council’s budget for 2025/26.”
Amy Oliver, the council’s director of finance, said: “Councils are under unprecedented financial pressures. It is a legal requirement for councils to provide some services, such as social care, and if the cost of these services continues to go up, either the Government must provide more money or other services will have to be cut.”