Hackney leaders warn of long-term funding crisis

Hackney's Mayor has responded to The Chancellor's spending review in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Picture...

Hackney's mayor and other leaders are calling on the government for more clarity and long-term funding - Credit: PA

A lack of long-term certainty about future government funding is putting frontline Hackney Council services at risk, say the borough's leaders.

In a letter to Michael Gove MP, Hackney's mayor Philip Glanville, deputy mayor Cllr Anntoinette Bramble and cabinet member for finance, Cllr Rob Chapman, wrote: "[It is] impossible to level up the country while levelling down London – especially when it comes to the funding of vital public services”. 

The letter warning the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) secretary follows four consecutive years of one-year funding agreements.

The letter continued: “The government should now provide clarity on which local government funding reforms will happen and when."

The government’s Local Government Finance Settlement sets out Hackney’s funding for 2022/23, but the council says it does not currently match continued pressures on vital services such as social care and homelessness, or the ongoing cost of the pandemic.

Councils have, in the past, received multi-year funding settlements allowing them to plan services in the long-term. 

But delayed plans to reform local government funding, known as the Fair Funding Review, have resulted in short-term agreements. 

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The council is concerned the funding review, which will change how local government grants are awarded, will divert funding away from areas with high deprivation and need, such as Hackney, to other areas. 

The council will consider its budget for next year at a Full Council meeting in March.

Last year, prior to extra Covid-19 funding, it was met with a £58million government funding gap for frontline services, following 11 years of austerity. 

Hackney leaders' added: "Only with adequate long-term resources and certainty, can councils including Hackney plan for and deliver the first class services that our residents need and deserve.”

A DLUHC spokesperson said: “We are giving councils the resources they need to maintain and improve their services, with an additional £3.5billion being made available.

“Hackney is receiving an above-average settlement increase – its Core Spending Power is set to rise by up to £19.7m, an increase by up to 7.1 per cent in cash terms.”