Trafford Council has announced that, according to drafts, it currently has a budget gap of £6.4 million, which must be rectified. Trafford Council has blamed this on a lack of funding from the government towards local councils, with the council estimating that, in real terms, their budget has been slashed by 60% this past decade. 


Trafford is not alone in experiencing financial troubles; many have it far worse, in fact. For example, Birmingham City Council already collapsed into bankruptcy back in September, and many councils in North Wales, such as Wrexham, have warned that they could be next if the government doesn’t step in to help. Last month, Unison reported a combined budget gap of around £3.5 billion across England, Scotland, and Wales, and Manchester City Council has been widely reported to have a shortfall of several tens of millions. 


Trafford Council recently met on the 15th of November to table their draft budget. With the final budget set to be voted on in February next year, council leaders have until then to find a way to close the gap. This won’t address the long-term financial issues though with Urmston Councillor and Executive Member for Finance, Change and Governance, Joanne Harding stating that “we will still face significant funding gaps in 24/25 and 25/26.” 


Trafford Council has blamed its lack of finances on the methods the Conservative government has used to calculate how much money is awarded to each council and 13 years of budget cuts since the Conservatives came into power from Labour (who currently control Trafford Council) in 2010. In response, they have urged Westminster for more aid and have recently joined a lobby group of the poorest 20 councils in the UK to lobby for equality in funding. However, Trafford has ruled out large council tax increases with the 2.99% in line with Government expectations according to the council. Trafford argue that increasing taxes would increase the struggle residents face with the cost-of-living crisis. But with no response from the Government and Trafford still having the 2nd lowest council tax in Greater Manchester, Trafford may have to bitterly consider it. 


The impacts of Trafford’s budget being squeezed down will mean that there will be less money to be spent on all public services in the region, such as the many town centre regeneration plans that have already been proposed for Sale Ward and Hale Village, among others. These plans for improving the region may be forced to be scrapped or downsized. Joanne Harding claimed when questioned that “Consequences of ongoing reduced funding to Councils can only mean further painful cuts to Council budgets and services.” With the future development of Trafford’s services on the line, it’s now up to Jeremy Hunt, the UK Government, and the Council to find a solution that appeases everyone or face the demoralising prospect of a stagnant Trafford, unable to improve for the future.