CHESHIRE West and Chester Council’s leader insists the Government’s additional cash for local authorities ‘doesn’t even begin’ to deal with her local authority’s challenges.

But her opposite number has welcomed Chancellor Philip Hammond’s budget – and is calling for fresh thinking from CWAC so the council can ‘do more than just hold out its hand for some extra funding’.

Mr Hammond announced last week that councils in England would receive a share of £650 million – with the expectation that the money will be used on social care services.

Cllr Samantha Dixon, CWAC leader and Labour member for Chester City, believes that the funding will not go far enough – and fears that the Government simply isn’t listening to the concerns of her and other council leaders about finances.

“It doesn’t even begin to deal with the challenges we face,” she said.

“To put this in context, CWAC spends more than £700 million every year on services for local residents, but since 2010 the government has cut over £300 million in cash terms from the funding we used to receive to help pay for them.


“The chairman of the Local Government Association said recently that councils were at the front of the queue when austerity started, so local services should be at the front of the queue if it is coming to an end.

“I agree with him, but this announcement of £650 million is a drop in the ocean compared to what we actually need, so I have no confidence that the Government is listening to council leaders.

“You cannot do public services on the cheap. In order to keep looking after the most vulnerable members of our community, to keep maintaining the quality of our roads, and to ensure a good education, jobs and housing for everyone in Cheshire West, we need to address the funding situation for local councils immediately.

“Locally, Labour has balanced the budget for our council every year, despite the Tory cuts and we will keep focusing on strong financial management and delivering the savings we have to make in way that is fair for all local residents.”

During Monday’s budget speech, Mr Hammond announced that austerity is ‘coming to an end’.

He also promised £420 million-a-year for councils to spend on improving roads, plus £500 million for school equipment and £675 million to support the nation’s high streets.

Cllr Lynn Riley, leader of CWAC’s Conservative opposition, believes Mr Hammond’s budget will bring big opportunities for taxpayers and businesses in Cheshire West.

And the Frodsham councillor wants CWAC to be more innovative in the way it delivers services, rather than ask for more public money.

She said: “We are really pleased that the Government has recognised the financial pressures faced by local councils like CWAC, with the budget containing a number of positive announcements for local communities and authorities that we strongly welcome.


“Our work with our local MPs Esther McVey and Antoinette Sandbach, and the representation we make to the Local Government Association, is clearly being heard.

“We particularly welcome the news that there will be a multi-million pound boost for local highway authorities to improve our roads, as well as the cash to help schools and funding for new homes, so young people will be able to get a foot on the housing ladder.

“The announcement of a £675 million Future High Streets Fund will also be particularly welcome in Chester to support the fantastic local businesses we have here.

“We want to see CWAC do more than just hold out its hand for some extra funding and use this opportunity to push ahead with much needed new ideas and innovative ways of delivering top quality services for our residents whilst keeping council tax low.

“The great news about support for small businesses and extra help for the high street is particularly welcome and a great opportunity for fresh thinking.”