A festive funding shock - and the story behind the hole in your local council's budget
A former council leader takes us behind the scenes
Dear members — you may have read some concerning news about local government finances recently. Or perhaps those stories passed you by because, frankly, how councils are funded is a complex and boring domain, full of bureaucratic jargon about budget settlements and grants whose names change every few years.
The person we turn to in such moments is Sean Fielding, the former leader of Oldham Council. You might remember his piece last year, which ran under the headline: “Why is your cash-strapped local council buying your failing local shopping centre?” Somewhat against the odds, it turned into one of our most popular members’ stories of the year, perhaps because it gave readers a rare insight into how local authorities work, and how they think.
Today Sean tries to explain just how cash-strapped our councils are, and why the past 13 years of government funding cuts have fallen particularly hard on budgets in places like Greater Manchester. And he takes us beyond the headlines to show how …