The Chancellor must reverse the decade-long cuts and hand greater control over taxes to local authorities in the Autumn Spending Review on Wednesday, Bristol Green Party has urged.
In response to Rishi Sunak’s announcement on Wednesday, the Greens have highlighted how the centralisation of power and funding has hampered the country’s response to the coronavirus and climate crises.
Carla Denyer, Green Party councillor for Clifton Down in Bristol, said:
“The Conservative government’s failures throughout the pandemic, contrasted with local councils’ effective responses on the ground, have made it clear who is best placed and most qualified to support local communities.
“From running effective test and trace services, to providing food and personal protective equipment (PPE), councils have risen to the challenge where national government policy, and outsourcing to private contractors, have clearly failed.
“Yet years of cuts to public services have left many councils on the verge of bankruptcy. Councils have lost 50% of their funding in real-terms since the relentless ‘Austerity’ cuts began in 2010. News that Croydon council filed for bankruptcy only weeks ago should come as a warning to Conservative ministers that public services are at breaking point – precisely at the point when they are needed most.
“To steer us through this crisis we don’t just need emergency cash bungs, we need a complete rethink of how funding is provided to local communities, so they can not only survive but thrive in the world beyond Covid-19. Councils haven’t yet been offered ‘more’ money, they have been handed a sticking plaster for a broken bone.”
Local authorities have seen a reduction in core funding of almost £16 billion over the last decade . It has now been estimated that councils face a £2bn gap between the funding provided and the pressures faced as a result of Covid. 
At the same time, local authorities in England have extremely limited power to raise revenue compared to other countries. In 2014 every other G7 national collected more taxes at either a local or regional level.
Sandy Hore-Ruthven, the Green Party’s candidate for Mayor of Bristol, said:
“Is this what Bristol needs to get us through this pandemic? Some of the promises are better than nothing, but there are some nasty surprises. It falls so far short of what’s needed.
“I would like to invite the Chancellor to Bristol and speak with him about the pressures our city faces as a direct result of ten years’ of his Government shrinking Bristol City Council’s ability to do its job.
“If there was ever a need for a wholesale reversal of the huge cuts they have made to local councils, it’s now – and even going back to 2010 levels won’t get the job done.
“In Bristol we need funding and tax raising powers that make us sustainable and able to stand on our own two feet, rather than always scratching around just to make ends meet and do the bare minimum that’s required by law.
“After all, it’s local councils who know what’s best for our area and our communities. We know best where we can develop renewable energy projects, and how to make our city a more liveable place where people come first. We know best how to give our young people the best start in life and how to support those who are most vulnerable. We can communicate with local people far more effectively than a remote Government in Westminster.
“I just wish the Chancellor would give us the tools to do the job. I want a cast-iron guarantee that the Government will reimburse all Covid-related spending and I want to see a long-overdue review into the balance of taxation between national and local government.”