Trafford’s leading Labour administration is to lobby the Prime Minister for a fairer funding system for Trafford Council as it continues to buckle under the strain of financial pressures.
The authority has been forced to cut vital community services and support as it strenuously tries to balance the books due to austerity year after year.
Trafford is just one of several authorities across the country collectively demanding a £300m temporary fix to level up local government finances.
The council has joined the F20 – this is a cross party group of councils fighting for the funding floor to be set at 90pc of our average core spending power to level up local government finance in the lowest funded authorities. If agreed, Trafford would receive an additional £5.7m each year.
Cllr Jill Axford, who represents Davyhulme East Ward, tabled a motion during Wednesday’s Full Council meeting saying the levels of austerity we are all experiencing are both unfair and unjustified.
She added: “Trafford Council is facing enormous challenges as the cost-of-living crisis deepens, the NHS is in collapse, schools are struggling, and the climate crisis looms ever closer.
“Yet, due to an unfair system based on outdated data, we receive one of the lowest funding settlements in the country while still being expected to keep essential services going, with far less.
“Our resources are already stretched to the very limit and here we are still facing a budget gap for 2024/26 of at least £16m.”
Cllr Axford argued that cuts to public services have long-term economic consequences – and councils should be funded fairly for them to function in a more innovative, forward-thinking way, rather than being limited to acting in a restrictive and reactive fashion.
Cllr Ben Hartley, who represents Ashton Upon Mersey Ward, echoed his colleague’s concerns, and accused the Conservative Government of not appreciating local councils.
He argued: “It is easy to describe Trafford as an affluent borough, however, I’m sure many councillors and residents would very much disagree with that narrative.
“Trafford is without question one of the worst government funded boroughs in the country – it’s what the data shows because the current funding formula is so obsolete.
“We have seen some recent cash injections to support social care and discharge but, quite frankly, that is a drop in the ocean compared to the £263m budget cuts this council has been forced to close since 2010.
“The Conservatives do not recognise the value of local government and that is made clear by their actions.”
Cllr Hartley continued: “Local authorities are best placed not just to help our vulnerable residents, but also to deliver sustained economic development through new housing, regeneration in town centres and investment in infrastructure.
“It’s time for the Conservatives to be transparent with Trafford residents by accepting that the government they support has chronically underfunded this council for more than a decade.
“The modest commitment this motion asks for would ensure that this borough gets its fair share of funding so that no more public services are left barley functioning or face closure.”
Trafford Council’s Labour leader, Cllr Tom Ross, has agreed to pen a letter to Rishi Sunak demanding a review of the current funding formula while noting how this outdated mechanism is putting vital services in Trafford at risk.