Council highways and transport spending falls by nearly 5%


Spending by English local authorities on highways and transport fell by 4.6% in 2015/16, new Government statistics have confirmed.

The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has published final outturn figures for local authority revenue expenditure and financing in England for 2015-16.

The figures show that revenue expenditure by all local authorities in England totalled £94.5bn in 2015-16, a decrease of 1.5% from £95.9bn in 2014-15.

Total net current expenditure on highways and transport services fell by £207m (4.6%) from £4.53bn in 2014/15 to £4.33bn in 2015/16.

The new statistics show that councils are funding a higher proportion of their revenue spending from council tax in the face of falling support from central Government grants.

Officials said 26.2% of revenue expenditure in 2015/16 will be funded through council tax, compared to 25.0% in 2014/15, and 60.4% from central Government grants, down from 63.9% in 2014-15.

Overall, councils drew on their reserves to fund revenue funding in 2015/16, having added to them the previous year.

Claire Kober

Separately, the Commons Public Accounts Committee said the DCLG ‘appears complacent about the risks to local authority finances, council tax payers and local service users arising from the increasing scale and changing character of commercial activities across the sector’.

In a new report, the committee said that while local authorities had on the whole maintained capital spending levels over recent years, revenue pressures have led them to focus capital spending more on schemes intended to generate future revenues.

It warned that authorities might lack the necessary commercial skills to do this and that DCLG ‘does not have good enough information to understand the scale and nature of authorities’ commercial activities or which authorities are placing themselves at greatest risk’.

Cllr Claire Kober, chair of the Local Government Association's Resources Board, said: ‘Councils experienced a 40 per cent reduction in core central government funding over the last Parliament and funding pressures will continue over the next few years.

‘More self-sufficiency for local government cannot be accompanied by central government reviews and monitoring. Councils are open, transparent and democratically accountable and their spending is already subject to public scrutiny.’


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