Michael Gove has been pushing the Treasury for “appropriate funding” for local councils, the veteran Cabinet minister has said.
Speaking at a local government conference on Monday, the Communities Secretary said he had been “doing my best to reinforce to the Treasury and to Number 10 some of the particular challenges that local government faces”.
In the run-up to the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement on Wednesday, local councils have been pushing for more funding to cope with a variety of pressures including social care, children’s services and temporary accommodation.
On Monday, councils and charities wrote to Jeremy Hunt saying it was “vital” he use Wednesday’s announcement to provide more money for children’s services before they were “pushed to the brink”.
Local government can deliver, local government is ready to reform, but local government also needs the resource to be able to make that reform work effectively
While Mr Gove said he was unable to reveal what was in the Autumn Statement, he told the County Council Network conference on Monday that he recognised the need for local government to have adequate resources.
He said: “The cases that I make to other Government colleagues are predicated on the basis that local government can deliver, local government is ready to reform, but local government also needs the resource to be able to make that reform work effectively.”
Mentioning the need for social care reform, he added: “Ultimately, a change of attitude and a change of delivery needs to be accompanied by appropriate funding and that’s one of the key cases I have made.”
Financial pressures have seen a string of local authorities effectively declare bankruptcy in recent years, including Woking, Thurrock, Birmingham and Croydon, while others have warned they may have to take similar action soon.
Mr Gove said recent cases had involved “system managerial failures, often going back many years”, but acknowledged that other “well-run and well-managed” local authorities being forced to make “very difficult decisions”.
He said: “My view is we need to make sure that there is an approach to funding local government that appreciates those strains, but also an approach towards local government that champions what is going well and anticipates where problems are and allows for intervention earlier.”