April 21, 2024

Opposition politicians blame ‘years of underfunding’ for Shropshire Council financial crisis

The authority’s leadership has said £62 million of cuts are needed to the council budget with library services, waste collections and special needs transport all in anger. There could also be redundancies.

North Shropshire MP, Helen Morgan, said years of Government neglect for rural areas were to blame.

She said said poor local decisions like the purchases of Shrewsbury’s shopping centres for £51 million had made the situation worse but said rural councils had consistently been under-funded by the Conservatives.

“The budget plans were released shortly after Shropshire was once again short-changed by the Government’s Local Government Funding Settlement,” she said.

Shropshire Council has had its Government funding cut by £37.3 million in real terms between 2016 and 2024, analysis by the House of Commons Library shows. This is despite rural councils facing far higher costs than their urban counterparts due to older populations and large geographical areas. In Shropshire, around 80 per cent of the budget is being spent on social care alone.

“People across Shropshire are rightly worried about which services Shropshire Council will cut next.

“Rural councils like Shropshire have been starved of the funding they need for crucial services like bin collections, road repairs and social care.”

The Liberal Democrat MP recently spoke up for Shropshire in a House of Commons debate on local government finance and has also tabled a motion urging the Government to ensure councils have the means to deliver the services that local residents need.

The news of the cuts was dreadful for residents and frightening for many staff, Julian Dean, leader of the Green Group on Shropshire Council said.

“Shropshire deserves better,” he said.

“Years of underfunding by the Conservative Party, plus a cowardly refusal to tackle the funding of social care has led to this position.

“Many will hope a general election will give us a chance to recover our public services, but Labour has made abundantly clear that their ‘fiscal rules’ will come first; they’ve already slashed plans for green investment. Sadly the general election doesn’t provide clear light at the end of the tunnel.

“The Green political choice is to introduce a wealth tax which could easily provide the funds to transform social care and enable councils to do what they often do so well – provide local services and opportunities to live better lives.”

Leader of the Shropshire Labour Group Julia Buckley said: “We put forward an alternative budget where we would invest capital funds into purchasing care homes and children’s residential homes, to control the cost and quality of placements. Currently this volatile cost is totally at the whim of private homes holding the council to ransom.

“If the Conservatives lose the local elections in May 2025, this is what we will do instead.”

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