Council leader gives reaction to Chancellor's Autumn Budget

The leader of Lincolnshire County Council has welcomed the extra funding for local government announced in today's Budget.

Martin Hill.

Councillor Martin Hill, leader of Lincolnshire County Council, said: “It certainly looks like the country is in a far stronger economic position than expected at this time last year, which is great news.

“We welcome the £4.8bn of extra funding has been announced for local government and we look forward to receiving further information on that. It is likely that we will continue to face significant financial challenges, although we won’t receive the details of next year’s settlement until towards the end of the year.

“Local government has been at the forefront of government spending cuts for the last 10 years and our initial estimates suggest we face an annual funding shortfall of around £25-30m over the next few years. The only way to close that gap will be to increase council tax, draw on our reserves or find further savings – or more likely a combination of all three.

“A major issue for us is the growing demand for adult care and the additional costs this brings. The government has announced reforms, but any extra funding won’t come through for two or three years. We need action now, and we need to see a long-term plan for making adult care sustainable in a fair way. Council tax increases are not the way to do this, as some parts of the country will find it much easier to generate income in this manner."

Mr Hill also said he was looking forward to hearing more about the investment into infrastructure and funding for roads maintenance in non-city areas, and was disappointed to see the county's highways funding cut by £12m last year, and making up the shortfall to keep filling potholes wasn't something the council can afford to keep doing

“It was good to see that our bid for Levelling-Up funding for road improvements around Boston and Spalding appears to have been successful. This package of improvements will not only help the food sector transport goods more easily, but should also mean less congestion for motorists in the area. And I’d like to congratulate West Lindsey District Council on their successful bid for £10,274,858 million of Levelling-Up funds for Gainsborough.

“Significant funding has been given to the regional mayors to invest in transport infrastructure, which underlines how important it is for the county to get its own devolution deal. So we’ll continue to explore the opportunities with partners across the public sector to find a devolution arrangement that is right for Lincolnshire.

“Local councils have played a huge role in supporting our communities during the pandemic, highlighting the vital role they play. The extra funding for local government suggests this has been recognised and we hope that moving forward we are given the money we need to provide the services our residents rely on.”

Councillor Colin Davie, executive member for economy, added: “There’s a lot of positive news for the local economy in today’s Autumn Budget.

“We particularly welcome the additional funding for post-16 skills training. Not only will this provide local young people with the opportunity to go for better jobs, it will also help ensure local employers can find the skilled staff they need.

“The investment in further education was also good news. Colleges provide vocational skills that are critical to our local economies and are often major employers in the towns where they are located. Let's hope that the budget is the start of a sustained investment in this sector.

“The grant programme to attract international businesses to the UK is also a positive step. We expect this to help further our ambitions for the Holbeach Food Enterprise Zone, which was recently highlighted by government as an opportunity for attracting investment to the UK."

Coun Davie added he was pleased to see the government emphasise its commitment to tackling climate change with investment in the new green industries of the future and incentives to encourage businesses to invest in green technology.

"This is an important issue for us, as highlighted at the recent Lincolnshire Climate Summit," he said, “The 50 percent business rate discount for retail and hospitality, and the draught relief tax support for pubs too, will be greatly welcome and necessary for that sector. However, it is important that local councils aren’t left to foot the bill for these measures.

“Finally, I’m sure local businesses will welcome the cancellation of the planned rise in fuel duty – as will many residents who rely on their cars for getting around our rural county.”