Rishi Sunak says that councils facing bankruptcy will be better off this year than last year – despite warnings that funding has been slashed for over a decade.

The Prime Minister was in Sussex this morning and visited Boots in Horsham to announce a new policy on shoplifting.

When asked by The Argus how he would protect councils from bankruptcy, Mr Sunak said that the government was “investing in local communities directly” to help councils tackle the funding crisis which has seen many with millions of pounds in debt.

But councils have previously said that their funding has been slashed by over £100 million in real terms since the start of the Tory government and are calling for more to protect vital services.

The Prime Minister said: “In the most recent settlement for local government we provided around £600 million of extra funding which means on average councils will have about 7.5 per cent more money to spend this year than they had last year in cash terms.

The Argus: Rishi SunakRishi Sunak (Image: PA)

“We know there are pressures and actually what you've seen is that the grant from central government to local government has risen every single year above inflation over the course of this parliament.

“We're investing in local communities directly through our Levelling Up funds whether that's in Crawley or down in Hastings or Bexhill or Eastbourne.

“These are all places that are receiving tens of millions of pounds in funding and levelling up in their high streets or town centres, often putting local people in charge of how to spend that money to develop their communities.”

Brighton and Hove City Council previously warned that they had seen a 40 per cent reduction in their funding from the government and over £100 million in real-term cuts in the last 14 years. It also has £380 million in debts.

The Prime Minister was also quizzed on how the government would deliver their plans when Sussex Police Federation stats show that 84 per cent of police officers say they are worse off than five years ago.

He said: “One of our signature manifesto commitments was putting 20,000 more police officers on our street and I’m pleased that we deliver there.

“I want to give people peace of mind that there's a brighter future ahead. There’s financial security for them and their family if we stick to our plan.”

Housing in Sussex was also on the agenda as Sunak was asked who should have the biggest say on housing in the county.

He said: “We've got a good track record in Parliament of building homes.

“We are delivering a million homes exactly as we said. Crucially, we are doing that in the right places. Prioritising brownfields with extra funding and working with local communities to protect green spaces but get housing built.

“We strongly believe that everyone should own a home. That's important to me and the government.”

The Prime Minister was also asked about the state of potholes on Sussex’s roads.

He said the government wants to “back motorists” by diverting money from the HS2 plans for road maintenance.