Challenges faced by councils to tackle climate change

Currently local government in England and Wales is funded in 2 ways:

Source:  Fermanagh and Omagh District Council

Source: Fermanagh and Omagh District Council

  • Grants from the central government (54%).
  • Locally raised funding (46%) which comes from council tax and sources including car parks and leisure centres for example.

However, the Government has committed that by 2020 central grants for local government will be phased out, with the aim to encourage local authorities to be financially self-sufficient, promoting local economic growth.

The Government has also transferred authority to tackle local environmental issues such as air pollution to local governments. However, local government’s spending power has been cut by 27 percent in real terms between 2011 and 2015. Understaffing is now a major issue meaning many councils have failed to provide their mandatory GHG emission reports.

Dr Enda Hayes, director of the air quality management resource centre at the University of West England: “The air quality challenge and public health crisis that many local authorities face is a manifestation of a larger national transport problem and while local authorities can certainly play an important role in improving local air quality they cannot do this without political will and funding.”

Sometimes 100 councils can be bidding for one amount of funding. Sometimes lack of staff/resources means that there is no point in a council bidding because they wouldn’t be able to roll out the measures. In this way, more wealthy councils can be granted more money as they gradually build up a portfolio of good investments, making them attractive recipients of more money from the government in the future.