Social care could drain local services cash dry, warns LGA

10 Nov 17

For every £1 of council tax, almost 60p could be spent on social care by 2020, taking away from “vital day-to-day services”, the Local Government Association has warned ahead of the Budget later this month. 

The umbrella-group has called on the government to ensure councils could keep raising the local tax to keep providing services as the money is “running out fast”.

Clair Kober, chair of LGA’s resources board, said: “With the right funding and powers, local government can play a vital role in supporting central government to deliver its ambitions for everyone in our country.”

She added: “Demand for services caring for adults and children continues to rise but core funding from central government to councils continues to go down.

“This means councils have no choice but to squeeze budgets from other services – such as roads, street lighting and bus services – to cope.”

The association projected 56p could be spent on caring for the elderly, vulnerable adults and children, up from 41p in 2010-11, and that this would take away funds that could be spent on services such as waste collection, road repairs and bus services.

Almost half of all local authorities (168 councils) will no longer receive any revenue support grant funding from central government by 2019-20, the LGA point out in a new analysis.

Uncertainty was growing over how local services would be funded after 2020, as the Local Government Finance Bill, which was passing through parliament before the election, was not reintroduced in the Queen’s Speech, the association said.

This has made it uncertain whether councils would be able to keep all their income from business rates by the end of the decade.

Councils spent £104m repairing potholes last year and a further £3.1m in payouts for damages caused by vehicles by potholes, according to industry research. But, with rising demand for social care services, councils may not have the funds to deliver these other services, such as maintaining roads.

In his March Budget speech, chancellor Philip Hammond said the Treasury would hand over £2bn to fund adult social services in England over the following three years as the system was “clearly under pressure”.

Kober urged the government to recognise the importance of sufficient and sustainable resources.

She said: “Local government must be able to keep every penny of taxation raised locally to plug funding gaps and pay for the vital local services our communities rely on.”

Councils in England face a £5.8bn funding shortfall by 2020 and, even if they “stopped filling potholes, maintaining parks and open spaces, closed all children’s centres, libraries, museum and leisure centres, turned off every street light and shut all discretionary bus routes, they still would not have saved enough money to plug this gap in just two years”, Kober said.

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