Councils voice anxiety over ability to provide statutory duties

2 Jul 19

A third of councils fear they will not have the funds to provide their minimum statutory duties for the next three years, a survey has found.

Almost two-thirds of councils believe cash for services like adult social care, child protection and preventing homelessness will dry up by 2024-25, according to a Local Government Association survey released today, on the first of the organisation’s two-day conference. 

The survey got responses from 141 of the 339 LGA member councils in England and Wales.

It also found that 17% of councils were not confident of realising all of the savings they had identified this year (2019-20).

The LGA said that councils needed a guarantee they will have enough money to meet growing demand pressures in particular in adult social care, children’s services, special educational needs, homelessness support and public health.

LGA chair Lord Porter said: “Councils would normally have started their budget-setting planning process but remain completely in the dark about how much funding they will have next year. Communities relying on the vital local services that make a difference to their lives deserve better.

“Securing the financial sustainability of local government must be the top priority for the next prime minister. Urgent guarantees are needed that councils will have the funding they need to ensure our vital public services survive the uncertainty ahead.”

The LGA noted that with Brexit still unresolved, the chances of the government carrying out a three-year Spending Review this year were “increasingly unlikely”.

Andrew Gwynne, shadow communities and local government secretary, said: “Our councils keep our streets cleaner and safer, protect the most vulnerable in society, and maintain our green spaces – but a decade of austerity has eroded these vital services away.”

A Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government spokesperson said: “Councils are a vital link to meet the needs of residents, that’s why we’re providing local authorities with access to £46.4 billion this year – a real terms increase – including extra funding to support some of our most vulnerable groups.

“Ultimately councils are responsible for managing their own resources and we are working with local government to develop a funding system for the future.”

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