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Report damns funding cuts to counties like us
A DAMNING report says cuts to council funding in areas including Worcestershire could put Britain at risk of its international obligations.
A report from an outside body says local authorities in the UK "do not have adequate financial resources" and this is likely to "get worse in years to come".
The findings, from the Council of Europe, suggest the country is no longer compliant with the European charter of local self-government - an agreement signed back in 1988.
The report, the first one done on Britain's town halls since 1999, says councils are severely restricted in their ability to provide "essential public services" like elderly care and public transport.
Its publication comes at a time when councils in Worcestershire are making unprecedented cuts, largely due to demographic pressures and reduced Government funding.
The county council is looking to slash around £99m by 2019, while the city council is aiming to reduce spending by £4.1 million.
The report has blamed "austerity measures placed on local government", saying it examined councils in Cardiff, Leeds, London and Edinburgh before forming the view.
A delegation found councils are "faring worse" than other parts of the public sector.
It concludes by saying councils need greater powers, increased ability to raise taxes and fairer funding.
Councillors across Worcestershire say they are not surprised by the findings.
Labour Councillor Paul Denham, the deputy Mayor of Worcester, said: "I'm not surprised at all - part of the reason it's gone down is because of protection in NHS funding, but even that hasn't kept up with demand.
"I travel across Europe from time to time and I've come to the view we've been overtaken by most civilised Western nations, particularly for public transport and social care."
Councillor Neil Laurenson, from Worcester Green Party, said: "It's absolutely no surprise to me that this report comes to the same conclusions many people have.
"People need to understand this is why services are being cut."
Councillor Bob Banks, a Conservative at the county council, said: "The reasons for it are well-rehearsed, and as a Conservative I'd say it's been caused by the financial crisis.
"It's affected Europe too, something they seen blissfully unaware of. But the recommendations are the right ones, and I think with some of them we're already getting there."
The Council of Europe is the continent's leading human rights organisation and is based in France, employing 2,200 people.
Its brief is to probe issues facing all European nations, by doing regular reports for the attention of Governments.
Sir Merrick Cockell, from the Local Government Association, which represents all councils, said: "This is a fair reflection on the current pressures facing local government."
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