I have really enjoyed seeing so many of you out in the regions, at conferences, and through our webinars, and I am really looking forward to seeing many of you again at today’s Annual Conference.
We have been lobbying hard on proposals designed to help councils deliver for residents in England and Wales but the Chancellor’s Budget announcement offered nothing this time to ease our financial pressures. Rising demand to support children, the elderly and disabled have not been recognised in the Budget, aside from a small disabled facilities grant.
We need the remaining business rates and a fairer distribution, not just pilots. We call for the forthcoming Local Government Finance Settlement to set out a plan of how we can run our services, now and in the future.
Little has been done to help us tackle homelessness. We must control our own right to buy discounts and to keep the funding from sales to enable councils to replace sold housing. The pressure on planning for more houses has now shifted focus from the green belt and agricultural areas to the cities.
Universal Credit needs further improvement. A week with no money at all and monthly payments continue, however.
There was a little support for business in our local economies, with small businesses thankfully kept out of VAT; for now. And, it is pleasing to see an extra £1.2billion for Wales. However, if money is taken out of local spend, no wonder the economy and wages are lowered; and productivity with it!