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Cambridgeshire leaders back calls to the Chancellor not to ‘devastate local services’

27 October 2022

Cambridgeshire County Council leaders have added their voices to urgent national calls to Chancellor Jeremy Hunt to avoid further cuts to local government- on the eve of launching the council’s own consultation to help Members balance the budget.

New analysis from the County Councils’ Network published today (Thursday, 27th Oct) reveals that county authorities in England face a staggering £3.5 billion increase in inflationary and demand costs this year and next – and says further cuts to budgets on top of these pressures would be “devastating for local services”.

Last week Cambridgeshire highlighted a potential £29m gap in its budget next year - a figure which has almost doubled from its predictions earlier in the year, increased by inflation rates unseen for the past 40 years, growing uncertainty about energy prices and increased costs of supplies and wages.

Budget consultation due to start across the county in November will ask for resident’s views on options that Members could consider for bridging this gap ahead of setting next year’s budget. 1100 residents across the County will be contacted for the annual doorstep survey due to begin this week, and the survey will also be published on the council’s website from next week.

“I am totally unsurprised by the figures in the analysis that the County Council’s network has published today,” said Cllr Lucy Nethsingha, Leader of the County Council. “The Government has already confirmed that there be no spending review this year, and now they are signalling further cuts may be made. This will severely affect local services whose funding is already on a knife edge.

“While are determined to continue with our pledge to make Cambridge greener, fairer and more caring, we are already facing enormous pressures with increased costs and demand. For instance, in the last 16 months, we have seen an unprecedented 24% increase in the number of children eligible for free school meals. We will be asking residents questions about least worse options for them, but none will be painless.”

“We have already said that the increases we face – like those facing our residents – are not in our control,” agreed deputy leader Cllr Elisa Meschini. “Inflation on what we buy affects us all, and only now are we really starting to see the long-term effects of the COVID pandemic come through.

“The Chancellor must listen to our calls, and those of our fellow County Councils, and continue to support local councils which have long been acknowledged as being most effective and efficient form of government in this country.”