ST HELENS Council’s leader has hit out at cuts to local government as he claimed "we continue to be strangled" by the Government.

Cllr David Baines made the comments during the cabinet meeting on Wednesday, where a revenue and capital outturn report for 2021-22 came before members.

Members noted the revenue outturn position, subject to audit, and approved the proposed "carry forward" of budget provision.

The report confirmed that the overall revenue outturn position for 2021-22 is an underspend of £1.864 million.

It stated this is a net position after the application of Covid-19 funding to cover the additional expenditure and losses of income directly related to the pandemic, and the earmarking of the "unutilised balance of the 2021-22 restructuring budget to the restructuring reserve".

Cllr Martin Bond, cabinet member for finance and governance, said the underspend will be used to increase the council’s level of reserves.

He said: “That’s significant because Covid funding is not continuing as it stands and it’s seen a resurgence as well, unfortunately, and obviously there’s significant inflationary pressures as well.”

Cllr Baines also shared his views. He said: “I think to sum up the story that this report tells us, and local government finance in general, is that we continue to be strangled by this Government.

“12 years into Tory Government we are, like all public services, continuing to be cut to the bone and our life’s made increasingly difficult by decisions made in Westminster.

“But also, the other side of that story, is credit to this council, our council officers, our key worker staff and this Labour administration for taking tough decisions but modernising services, continuing to deliver essential services in new and innovative ways for our communities.”

Cllr Andy Bowden, cabinet member for environment and transport, told members that he hopes the Government will recognise the international issues, outside the council’s control, that are leading to some of the causes of inflationary pressures.

He hopes the Government will "react appropriately" and provide support.