£50bn funding gap ‘puts councils’ environmental services at risk’

Local authorities could find themselves £50bn short of funding over the next six years, putting their ability to carry out key environmental services at risk, according to new forecasts.

The analysis was carried out by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and published this week in a report commissioned by the County Council Network (CCN) which represents England’s 27 county councils and nine unitary authorities.

PwC used Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG) data to compile the report.

It found that spending on environmental and regulatory services in England accounted for 11% of total spending of local authorities in 2015/16 – the third highest area of spending by councils, next to adult and child social services.

By 2024/25, spending on environment and regulatory services – 40% of which is made up of waste disposal services – is expected to increase by 28%, PwC said. But local authorities would see their budget on environmental and regulatory services increase by 26% – around £350m – over the same period.

The analysis claims local authorities will need an additional £51.8bn in total, but even if councils increase council taxes to their maximum of 2.99%, a £30.2bn hole will still be opened up by 2024/25, PwC said.

CCN director Simon Edwards said the report laid bare the “stark reality facing the sector and severe financial challenges” now being felt by all types of councils.

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