Spring Budget, March 2023

  • By Amy Leppänen

Ahead of the Spring Budget on Wednesday 15 March, London Councils has set out our top priorities. You can read our full representation to the Treasury ahead of the Spring Budget at this link. Despite the recently confirmed increase in funding for 2023-24, London boroughs will still need to make savings of £100 million next year to balance budgets, due to heightened demand for council services as a result of the pandemic and the cost of living crisis. The most immediate and acute pressures are in homelessness and in the health and care system.

Our priorities

Housing and homelessness

We’re asking the government to:

  • Increase Local Housing Allowance rates to help homeless households and those most at risk of homelessness to secure affordable accommodation.
  • Increase Discretionary Housing Payment allocations so boroughs can provide more hardship support for residents impacted by the cost-of-living crisis.
  • Provide additional investment for the refurbishment of existing housing stock to treat damp and mould, address fire and building safety and improve energy efficiency.
  • Remove all restrictions on how councils can use Right to Buy receipts to sustain affordable housing delivery without placing additional demands on the public purse.

Health and care

We’re asking the government to:

  • Increase remuneration rates for social care staff to address the significant staffing shortages by matching the NHS Agenda for Change pay scale.
  • Simplify the funding arrangements for Integrated Care Systems to provide local authorities with certainty in dealing with pooled budgets and support strategic long-term planning for health and care services.
  • Ensure all new and repurposed adult social care funding for 2023-24 and 2024-25 remains in the baseline going forward to deal with service demand pressures.
  • Commit to publishing medium-term (at least 3-year) Public Health Grant allocations in future and confirm them sooner alongside the provisional local finance settlement.

Supporting businesses

We’re asking the government to:

  • Keep the Energy Bill Relief Scheme (EBRS) under review and materially improve the discount for businesses to prevent business failures and lessen inflation.
  • Reform the apprenticeship levy to make it easier and cheaper for employers to recruit and retain talent.
  • Reintroduce the VAT Retail Export Scheme to make London and other UK destinations more competitive for overseas shoppers.

Helping London deliver net zero

We’re asking the government to:

  • Increase the overall amount of funding to deliver home retrofitting, including the full delivery of the £3.8 billion Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund, and provide a long-term funding source to support decarbonisation of our buildings.
  • Publish an action plan for Net Zero skills in line with the Skidmore review that includes a comprehensive roadmap for addressing the skills needs specific to achieving net zero, underpinned by long-term funding.
  • Provide £22 million of investment to enable at least ten local authorities to become demonstrators of a place-based, multi-intervention approach to achieving net zero neighbourhoods.

Greater devolution to local government

We’re asking the government to:

  • Work with London Councils to unlock the potential benefits of deepening devolution in London.
  • Broaden the balance of revenue raising powers available to councils in the longer term to improve financial resilience and reduce reliance on any single funding stream.
Amy Leppänen, Parliamentary Officer