State of Local Government Finance Survey 2018
LGiU and The MJ have run the State of Local Government Finance Survey every January since 2012 to coincide with councils setting their annual budgets. The results give a snapshot of the key pressures facing councils and their ideas for the future.
The survey was sent to senior decision-makers at each of England’s 353 councils (Council Leaders, Chief Executives, Cabinet Members for Finance/Resources and Directors of Finance/Resources) between 10th and 31st January 2018.
This year we received 132 responses from 113 individual councils, meaning that a third of English councils are represented in the results. We received responses from a broad cross-section of councils, encompassing county, district and unitary authorities, a mixture of political control, and all regions.
The survey questions covered topics including income sources, confidence, service level spending, funding system design and thoughts on future policy.
Key findings include:
• Nearly all councils in England plan to raise council tax (95%) and increase charging (93%) to make ends meet this year; and two thirds of councils will be forced to dip into their reserves
• 80% of councils fear for their financial sustainability amid growing concern that Northamptonshire CC is the tip of the iceberg for local government
• Councils face continued uncertainty about the source and level of funding post-2020 as political turmoil in Westminster has delayed crucial decisions on business rate retention, the new funding formula and devolution
• Despite three quarters of councils managing to sustain the quality of the frontline services over the past year, evidence suggests that their 2018/19 budgets will see activity further reduced in several key community services including parks and leisure (53% of councils), adult social care (40%) and youth centres (34%)
Find out more about the Local Finance Taskforce 2018