Non-core services likely to disappear as funding dwindles, NLGN survey finds

10 Aug 18

Most councils will not be able to provide discretionary services such as libraries and park maintenance in five years time, according to a survey of council leaders and chief executives.

Just one in three councils feel they will be able to provide services beyond those required by law in 2023, the latest version of the New Local Government Network’s leadership index found.

Services such as park maintenance, libraries and museums will suffer due to increased financial strain on local authorities, the think-tank said.

Local authorities with social care responsibilities are facing the biggest struggles and were more pessimistic about their ability to deliver more than the bare minimum. Eighty eight per cent indicated they would not be able to provide discretionary services in five years’ time.

NLGN director Adam Lent said: “In the next five years we could be seeing areas stripped of their libraries and park maintenance, with roads full of potholes.

“Crucial advice services offered to those in receipt of care or social housing are likely to be a thing of the past.”

The NLGN’s leadership index, which had responses from 191 council leaders, highlighted decreasing confidence of council leaders in the delivery of adult and children’s social care.

Compared to the last instalment of the index in March 2018, NLGN found that confidence in provision of children’s services fell from a rating of 43 out of 100 to 39.

Leaders’ confidence in the delivery of adult social care fell from 41 to 35.

Lent added: “This should be a sober wake-up call for a government that is overseeing a country with ever-deepening social divisions and growing inequality.

“Councils are best placed to tackle these problems, and should be receiving greater investment to do this, not seeing their services stripped to the bare minimum.”

EDITORS' NOTE: 13 August 2018, 14.50 - Under the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964 councils have a statutory duty to provide a comprehensive and efficient library service, however, CIPFA notes that interpretaion of the legislation and the duty differs from one council to another.

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