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‘We’re at breaking point over your spending cuts’ London councils warn Theresa May’s government

PUBLISHED: 12:15 29 November 2018 | UPDATED: 12:15 29 November 2018

Town halls across London say they're at breaking point over funding cuts. Picture: Mike Brooke

Town halls across London say they're at breaking point over funding cuts. Picture: Mike Brooke

Mike Brooke

Council leaders have fired a warning shot at Downing Street over cuts to public service funding which they say is pushing local authorities to breaking point in areas like Tower Hamlets which has lost 64 per cent from its budget.

Mayor John Biggs fires warning shot at Theresa May's government. Picture: Mike Brooke and (inset) Downing StMayor John Biggs fires warning shot at Theresa May's government. Picture: Mike Brooke and (inset) Downing St

The leaders met ahead of today’s planned event in Local Government Secretary James Brokenshire’s own constituency as part of their ‘Breaking Point’ campaign to stop “devastating cuts” they say have been forced on them.

“Austerity is not over,” Tower Hamlets Mayor John Biggs is urging the prime minister today. “The message is clear from mayors and councils across London.

“Continued cuts mean harder decisions in areas like the East End where we’ve already had to cut nearly £150m from services.

“We’re calling on the government to recognise that council budgets cannot be used as easy targets for cuts because they have serious impacts on the public.”

Tower Hamlets mayor John Biggs (centre, back) with other London council leaders calling for a break in government funding cuts. council Picture: London CouncilsTower Hamlets mayor John Biggs (centre, back) with other London council leaders calling for a break in government funding cuts. council Picture: London Councils

Cuts imposed since 2010 have meant that town halls have lost 60p out of every £1 from funding, the Labour-run authorities point out. The cuts will reach £4 billion by 2020.

Tower Hamlets public services have been especially hit with £148m lobbed off their budget in the past eight years, reducing it by 64pc.

More cuts and rising demand for services in an area with a rapidly growing population above the London average mean the town hall having to save a further £44m in the coming three years.

This is in the face of rising demand for services like emergency support and protection for children where local authorities across London spent £100m more than budgeted for last year alone.

London Councils’ Labour group Leader Peter John said: “We need public services to match our capabilities. London delivers a huge amount to the national economy each year. But the chancellor’s Budget did little to put us in a sustainable position.”

Other frontline services facing the squeeze in London include elderly care and tackling homelessness in “the most deprived communities in the country” where one-in-four live in poverty compared to one-in-five elsewhere.

The authorities fear being forced to make further savings of £2 billion in the next four years.

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