In Trafford, councillors are appealing for support in their quest for a more equitable funding agreement from the government. This plea has been put forth at the upcoming meeting of Trafford Council, with the aim of addressing the flawed system of local authority finance.
Trafford currently ranks among the 20 councils in the country receiving the lowest funding, and its council tax rates are the second lowest in Greater Manchester. Since 2010, the borough has faced a real-term budget reduction of 60%, resulting in the need to bridge budget gaps totalling £288 million.
An analysis conducted by the Institute for Fiscal Studies discovered that Trafford is the least funded local authority when compared to 150 similar bodies. This means that, on average, it receives £11 million less each year than its comparable counterparts.
Council leader Cllr Tom Ross expressed his frustration, stating: “We’ve been promised fair funding reviews and business rates resets, but these have amounted to nothing. The government cannot simply sit idly by on this matter. If we are unable to afford to continue providing the necessary support, the most vulnerable members of our society will suffer.”
The motion, to be deliberated on 31 January, acknowledges that Trafford is not the only council grappling to maintain its current services. A survey revealed that nearly one in five council leaders and chief executives believe it is highly probable that they will need to issue a section 114 notice within the next year. This notice effectively declares the council to be bankrupt, leading to severe cuts in services. Several councils have already resorted to issuing section 114 notices.
Cllr Ross further commented: “Although we have not reached section 114 territory, it is undeniably challenging to establish a budget for the upcoming financial year. This flawed system affects councils across the political spectrum. We urgently require the government to take action and allocate the necessary funding for local government finance. Our children and vulnerable adults rely on us, so grant us the fair funding we need to offer them the assistance they deserve.”
Additionally, the motion calls for the support of Trafford MPs and Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham in championing the cause and publicly urging the government to provide a just funding settlement for Trafford.