Tight budgets threaten local services

1 Feb 19

This year’s Spending Review will be “make or break” for non-essential local services, council chiefs have warned.

Buses, museums, park maintenance and council tax support will suffer if government fails to ease financial pressure on town halls, the Local Government Association has warned.

Some councils are being “pushed to the brink” by tight budgets as demand grows for children’s services, adult social care, and homelessness support, it added.

Councils provide more than 800 services to their residents, some of which are legal duties like children’s and adult social care, while others are optional.

Discretionary services that risk being slashed include rural and post-16 school buses, council tax support, fly-tipping penalties, and the management of parks and green spaces.

The LGA is today launching a campaign to influence the forthcoming Spending Review by warning about the growing risk to these services if the government does not help councils with their finances.

LGA research highlighted a number of funding gaps facing the sector by 2024–25 including adult social care (£3.6bn), children’s services (£3.1bn), homelessness (£421m), and public health (£655m).

The funding gap for all other services paid out of core spending is £295m, the LGA claimed.

This means a total funding gap in 2024–25 of £8bn just to deliver the same level of service being provided today, which has already been significantly cut in the last decade, it says.

Gary Porter, chair of the LGA, said: “The money local government has to provide vital services is running out fast and huge uncertainty remains about how councils will pay for services into the next decade and beyond.

“If the government fails to adequately fund local government then it will be our local communities and economies who will suffer the consequences.

“It will be those who rely on vital adult social care to live independent lives, rural bus routes to get out and about, council tax support to ease financial burdens, and those who value clean streets, green spaces and roads.

“The Spending Review will be make or break for vital local services and securing the financial sustainability of councils must be the top priority.”

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