Labour analysis reveals “£375m pothole swindle” in funding for councils

Elliot Chappell

New analysis released by the Labour Party has shown that local authorities across the country will lose out on £375m of money promised by the government to fix potholes next year with some seeing as much as a 28% fall in funding.

Councils were expected to receive £1.5bn per year in funding from the government to repair road damage but the government has committed just £1.125bn in cash for road maintenance in the year 2021-22.

Commenting on the analysis from the party, Jim McMahon MP said: “It appears the government is trying to quietly scale back its promises to councils and do them out of the cash they desperately need.”

The figures show that pothole funding will fall by an average of 23% with Yorkshire expected to see the biggest fall in funding at 28%, while total road maintenance will fall on average by 22% across the country.

The Shadow Transport Secretary added: “Local authorities are being forced into economically illiterate tax hikes while motorists are left to contend with problems that will take more than a decade to fix.”

Labour has repeatedly urged the government to provide more money to local councils instead of forcing authorities to implement a near-mandatory hike in council tax this April to make up for lost funding.

It was announced last year that English local authorities would be allowed to raise council tax by an extra 5%, including 3% for adult social care. Labour highlighted then that the hike was over twice the rate of inflation.

Local Government Association Labour leader Nick Forbes wrote in a piece for LabourList that “ministers are now refusing to cover the full cost of fighting Covid” despite promising to help them do “whatever it takes” during the crisis.

Under the proposals in the comprehensive spending review, Labour has said families in Band D will face an average rise of £93, and the rises will hit people hardest in the North West and North East of England.

The opposition has argued that council tax hikes this year will hit households at the worst time, during the midst of the pandemic and as Britain experiences the worst recession of any major economy.

Polling by Savanta ComRes revealed in January that 48% of English adults oppose councils being able to up council tax by 5% in April, while just 25% support the move, 22% said ‘neither’ and 5% ‘don’t know’.

Keir Starmer has described it as “absurd” that local government in England will need to “hike up council tax” when “millions are worried about the future of their jobs and how they will make ends meet”.

Labour used a non-binding opposition day motion last month to call on the government to abandon its plan for council tax. It passed as Tory MPs abstained after the government did not instruct its MPs to participate in the vote.

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