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Skipton MP warned councils are facing ‘enormous’ costs as inflation rises

Thursday, 1 September 2022 19:31

By Jacob Webster, Local Democracy Reporter

Skipton MP Julian Smith has been warned councils are facing “enormous” costs as rising inflation stretches budgets for key services and major projects.

Mr Smith told councillors today that local government reorganisation and devolution in North Yorkshire would bring “limitless opportunities” to the area.

However, he was urged to pressure Westminster to provide urgent support for local authorities as “the direction of travel is undoubtedly going to be one of austerity”.

That warning was from councillor Simon Myers, executive member for growth, culture, leisure, sport and housing at North Yorkshire County Council, who said: “You can imagine that the extra costs in heating schools, leisure facilities and other council buildings are going to be enormous.

“And it is unlikely that there will be any ability to recoup that cost from residents. Indeed, it would be wrong to given the economic circumstances that our residents are facing.

“We are going to need help from central government if we are not going to cut back on essential services.”

Mr Smith responded to say the rising costs for councils, households and businesses was “increasingly concerning” and would be the “key issue” for the new prime minister set to be announced on Monday.

He added he was “confident” that whoever is appointed – either Liz Truss or Rishi Sunak – would announce financial support “very quickly”.

Mr Smith said: “I can’t prejudge what is going to happen, but whatever the noise of the Tory leadership debate, there is going to be a massive government intervention.

“This in my view is at the level of, if not more financially challenging than the Covid period and these interventions will have to happen right across the economy.

“Although the timing of this leadership election to the Conservative party has been far from ideal, there has been significant work in the background by current ministers and officials in Whitehall.”

Ahead of further rises in inflation and energy costs in autumn, Mr Smith said the situation facing businesses was of particular concern for the Skipton and Ripon economy which is propped up on small enterprise.

He added he had already been contacted by several firms which are “really worried” about the months ahead.

Mr Smith told today’s meeting of the Skipton and Ripon Area Constituency Committee: “There are big concerns from small businesses across our area, particularly in manufacturing and hospitality where the current bill increases are proving very, very difficult.

“Small business has to be a key focus because there are hundreds of thousands of jobs across our area.”

 

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