Federal funding slide puts local communities at risk

Local libraries, playgrounds, sporting grounds and community centres are at risk unless the Federal Government addresses the downward slide in Financial Assistance Grants provided to councils.

Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) President Linda Scott said the total value of these grants as a percentage of Commonwealth taxation revenue had dropped in this week’s Federal Budget from 0.6% to 0.55%.

“Historically Financial Assistance Grants were set at one percent of Commonwealth taxation revenue, and now they are nearly half that amount,” Cr Scott said.

“We need to reverse the slide so our communities continue to get the services and support they need.”

“Local governments are seeking a gradual increase to at least one percent, which would enable us to create more jobs, build more libraries and  playgrounds, and reduce cost of living pressures for local families.”

“These grants are so important because they are untied, meaning they can be spent on local priorities.”

“In one community Financial Assistance Grants might be used to upgrade a local swimming pool, and in another to bring on new trainees or upskill existing staff.”

“Increasing Financial Assistance Grants would make sure that federal funding flows into every corner of our nation and ensure that no community is left behind.”

Cr Scott said councils are also calling for an immediate and once-off additional $1.3 billion injection of Financial Assistance Grants to boost local economies.

“Supporting our communities through droughts, bushfires, COVID and floods has put stress on local government budgets across the country,” Cr Scott said.

“These challenges have compounded an already difficult situation for many councils, particularly in rural, regional, and remote communities with large areas to service but small ratepayer bases.”

“Increasing Financial Assistance Grants makes economic sense, and it would enable us to continue to support every community.”

“Our call for increased Financial Assistance Grants has been independently assessed, and if funded would create 29,455 jobs and add $4.298 billion per year to Australia’s GDP.”