Over 40 Conservative MPs plead with Government for more cash for councils

Councillor Ben Bradley MP

One of the candidates in the running to be the first elected Mayor of the East Midlands is asking his own government to stave an emergency intervention to try and stave off financial ruin for councils.

Councillor Ben Bradley, MP for Mansfield, leader of Nottinghamshire County Council, chair of the County All-Party Parliamentary Group and the Tory nominee for East Midlands Mayor is one of 46 MPs who have written to the Prime Minister urging his government to provide an emergency injection of funding for councils to prevent major reductions to local services.

The signatories include seven former cabinet ministers and a host of East Midlands MPs.

The government is currently consulting on its final Local Government Finance Settlement, to be published next month. This will confirm how much funding councils in England will receive in 2024/25.

However, said Bradley, residents are already facing a “double whammy”.

He added: “County and unitary councils across the country are currently setting out their budgets for next year, with many proposing substantial reductions to highly valued local services as well as tightening of eligibility for care services. With council tax set to rise again this year, residents face a double whammy. No council leader will take any pride in taking this action, but they simply have no choice after the Autumn Statement left them in a significantly worse position.”

The move follows November’s Autumn Statement, which provided no new funding for local authorities despite the County Councils Network (CCN) highlighting its members were under extreme financial pressure and set to overspend this year by £650m, with these councils facing a total £4bn funding deficit over three years. To compound this, the rise in the National Living Wage has left those 37 councils over £230m worse off next year.

Bradley added: “The extent of the impact can be reduced if councils are given an emergency injection of funding, and 46 MPs have signed our letter calling on the government to intervene and protect local services. The fact that we have two former Local Government Secretaries, seven former cabinet members, and support from all three main parties shows the strength of feeling on this issue, particularly amongst my Conservative colleagues.”

In the letter, co-ordinated by the County Councils Network and the County All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) the MPs say: “There is still an opportunity to rectify the situation and ensure MPs are able to support the vote on the Local Government Settlement within the House of Commons in early February.

“We would therefore urge you to do all you can to use the Final Local Government Finance Settlement to provide additional funding for local government to ensure that the councils in our areas can continue to provide the services that our residents depend upon on a regular basis.’

“As a fellow MP for a county area, we are sure that you will find the prospect of residents in county and rural areas being impacted in such a way at this time concerning.”

The full list of signatories to the letter is below.