Bold action is needed to avoid widespread financial meltdown

While some cases of council failure point to poor decision-making or weak internal control, many councils would have been able to avoid the tipping point if Government funding had not been cut significantly since 2011, says Ian Miller.

To paraphrase the Department for Education, the majority of councils are unaffected by section 114 notices. But the number of councils concerned that their chief finance officers may need to issue such notices in the next year seems to grow daily.

Birmingham, the largest council in the UK, has joined the affected list. Few of them are district councils, as they are less exposed to the most costly demand-led services for children's and adults' social care. It would be a mistake to think that districts don't face pressures from demand-led services – take homelessness – and for several years other types of council have had far more generous settlements than districts.

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