Ahead of tomorrow’s fiscal statement, the leader of North Norfolk District Council and the Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for North Norfolk have written to the Chancellor demanding that he protects council funding.
Cllr Tim Adams, council leader, and Steffan Aquarone, the Lib Dem’s parliamentary candidate, took this step following reports that adult social care and climate change projects may face the brunt of Government-enforced cuts to council spending.
In their letter, the pair stress that North Norfolk is “acutely susceptible” to cuts being imposed on both these areas, due to its unique population and geography. They say that Councils play a “key role” in many of the largest challenges facing our country, and ask the chancellor to treat them as such as he draws up his final budget plans.
Mr Adams and Mr Aquarone pointed to the importance of climate change spending for the rapidly-eroding North Norfolk coast. They stress that important projects, similar to the award-winning sandscaping off the coast of Bacton, may not be possible if the Government force cuts, endangering many of North Norfolk’s coastal communities.
Steffan Aquarone, Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for North Norfolk said:
“Our councils are responsible for handling some of the most important aspects of people’s lives. It is totally unfair for the Government to force them to bear the burden of spending cuts.
“In North Norfolk, our ageing population and fragile coastline mean that any cuts to adult social care or climate change spending could have huge consequences for the area. We wrote to the Chancellor because it’s vitally important he understand that, and doesn’t take people in North Norfolk for granted yet again.
“We know that these cuts could’ve been avoided if it wasn’t for the disastrous mismanagement of the economy by the Conservatives. It is completely wrong for them to make this mess, then demand our hard working councils are the ones to clear it up.”
Full text of letter:
We write to you with deep concern ahead of your fiscal statement on Thursday.
Local councils were on the front line during the Coronavirus pandemic, helping to provide vital support to households, distributing grants to businesses and supporting the rollout of the vaccine. They are now continuing to work just as hard to deal with the cost-of-living crisis. In North Norfolk, the district council has issued grants to important local charities, such as our local Foodbank, and held a cost-of-living summit to bring together stakeholders to find solutions.
All of this hard work has gone alongside the already monumental day-to-day tasks which councils face, such as running key leisure facilities, supporting residents with housing needs and being a vital actor in tackling the climate emergency.
We are therefore incredibly concerned about local councils bearing the brunt of widely-reported spending cuts which are expected to be announced by you on Thursday. A recent survey showed that if councils are forced into cutting back on services, then adult social care and climate change projects may be the most likely to suffer.
North Norfolk is acutely susceptible to both these areas suffering cutbacks. As you are likely aware, we have one of the oldest populations in the country, with a third of residents over the age of 65. Our population is rapidly ageing, and we need the social care facilities to be able to support them when necessary.
We are also already suffering from the effects of climate change. North Norfolk’s beautiful coastline, which brings so many people to our area, is rapidly eroding. People in many of our seaside villages are seeing the North Sea coming ever closer to their properties, and without urgent action some of these communities could be lost forever. We have already taken important action in North Norfolk, with projects like our award-winning sandscaping off the coat of Bacton, designed to protect local villages and vital national infrastructure. If we are forced to make cuts, we will be unable to take more steps like these to ensure the safety and longevity of our incredible coast.
We are asking that, as you are drawing up the final plans for your fiscal statement, that you prioritise protecting councils and their finances, rather than taking even more funding from them as has been the case for many years.
Local authorities play such a key role in so many of the biggest challenges facing our country, and we urge you to treat them that way.
We hope you will take our concerns into consideration.
Tim Adams and Steffan Aquarone