With social care in crisis, a huge number of businesses deeply worried about rising business rates bills and the council tax set to increase by 25% by 2020, this local government finance settlement may work for Ministers, but it will certainly not work for anyone else. While it is good to hear that there may be some help for the businesses most affected by the revaluation, the Prime Minister’s spokesperson briefed after today’s Prime Minister’s questions that there would be no more extra money available to help fund this additional support to businesses. When the Minister winds up, will he confirm whether that is the case, because if it is, one group of businesses that were expecting help will be robbed to fund the relief for another group of businesses?
Many businesses will receive new bills next week, and council tax bills are almost ready to be sent out. This is the latest the settlement has been for decades, so one might have expected there to be a little better news in it compared with the original offering in December. There is no new money for local government to tackle the social care crisis, and nothing to help councils to tackle rising homelessness and the doubling of rough sleeping. It just passes the buck on to local councils, while local residents are left paying more in council tax, at the same time as public services deteriorate. No wonder this is being described as a “hugely disappointing” settlement. That is not my phrase, but the words of Lord Porter, chairman of the Local Government Association and Conservative leader of South Holland District Council.