Surrey County Council recently agreed to lobby the Government to overhaul local government funding - I was pleased to help write the motion behind this call, and spoke in the council debate.

Local government funding has been cut by a quarter since 2016 in real terms by the Conservative Government. We in Woking know the result all too well.

Instead of providing grants, the Government encouraged local authorities to invest to create alternative income, investment funded by borrowing from the Public Works Loan Board, the Government’s bank. The Government abolished the Audit Commission, which checked up on councils, around the same time.

Woking is what happens when things go wrong and a local authority goes effectively bankrupt. We need fair funding for councils to ensure Woking recovers and this does not happen again.

The main source of funding for local authorities is council tax. I can find no better example of how this tax is not fit for purpose than this: Buckingham Palace is valued at £1 billion and sits in Band H. Westminster City Council charges it just over £1,800 - the same as a Band B property in Woking.

Some 46% of households in the country have just received a bigger council tax bill than the palace!

Council tax is unfair and doesn’t properly fund local authorities; it needs radical reform.

Parliament’s cross-party local government select committee’s report, released this year, found “systemic underfunding of local councils in England” and a £4 billion hole in council funding for 2024-25.

The County Council Network (CCN), which lobbies on behalf of county councils, argues that councils will not be able to withstand another bout of funding reductions without fundamentally undermining the solvency of even the most well-run councils.

There is growing cross-party consensus that local government funding is broken but sadly the Conservative Government and MPs are not listening. I will continue to fight for the fair deal for local government that Surrey and Woking deserve.

By Cllr Will Forster