The Leader of City of Wolverhampton Council has called on the Chancellor to make the future of local government funding a priority at the forthcoming comprehensive spending review.

Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, is due to deliver details of future Government spending plans on 27 October. 

Councillor Ian Brookfield said he wanted to see a clear commitment that enough money would be made available to councils to fund essential local services and level up their communities as the country emerges from the pandemic and after more than a decade of austerity.  

It comes as a budget update report will go before the city’s cabinet councillors tomorrow (Wednesday 20 October) which reveals the council’s financial situation is still classed as a red risk due to uncertainty over future funding, with a predicted budget shortfall, based on current forecasts, of £20 million by 2023 to 2024. 

The council has already made cuts and efficiencies of £235 million over the past decade.  

The Council is currently on track to set a balanced budget for 2022 to 2023, however, officials state in the report to cabinet that “the proposals that will make this possible are mainly one off and not sustainable over the medium term.” 

Councillor Brookfield said: “We manage our money well in Wolverhampton despite austerity, we are ambitious about the future and stand ready to relight our city after the pandemic with priorities our residents have told us matter most. 

“If levelling up means anything, then surely it is about giving local areas the resources and tools they need to do the job.  

“I think councils across the land are united in our message to the chancellor as he prepares to unveil his future spending plans a week on Wednesday. 

“Local government has faced the brunt of austerity over the past decade and we cannot take anymore. Essential local services which people rely on like bin collections, road repairs, caring for the elderly and vulnerable and protecting children at risk of harm are already creaking and cannot sustain any further cuts. 

“We are also best placed to deliver the levelling up agenda locally and work with partners to deliver the vision for the future of our city as we emerge from the pandemic. 

“We’ve said for years now that local government needs to know what our future funding will be over the medium term, it is no good making us wait each year to find out what our funding will be for the next year. 

“The current system makes it incredibly difficult to plan ahead because you never know from one year to the next what funding will be there to deliver anything. 

“The Prime Minister has said there will be no return to austerity, we need the chancellor to make good on that commitment and adequately fund councils over the entire course of the spending review so we are able to plan ahead, deliver levelling up, recover from the pandemic and provide local essential services.”