Whiteman calls on Jenrick to focus on social care

6 Aug 19

CIPFA’s chief executive Rob Whiteman has written to the new communities secretary calling for vulnerable children and adults to be a top priority.

Whiteman wrote to Robert Jenrick last week outlining the institute’s key asks of him, including an immediate cash injection for vulnerable children and adults.

“Pending a full comprehensive Spending Review, urgent specific cash is needed for services for vulnerable children and adults,” he wrote.

He also called for more general resourcing to protect preventative services and “stop the hollowing out of strategic capacity”.

Councils have had to make difficult decisions – such as cuts to youth services - to maintain a balanced budget that have lead to “ugly consequences”, Whiteman claimed.

The letter praised the decision to launch the Redmond Review of local audit, announced at this year’s CIPFA conference, but suggested the review would be “stronger” if extended to health bodies.

CIPFA’s chief executive urged Jenrick to champion good practice in the sector given the difficulty of developing robust medium-term financial plans.

“The whole sector deserves non-party political and neutral support from the department. Your help to praise the good without impugning councils that can improve will be beneficial,” he said.

Whiteman added: “Please don’t review local government finance unless you mean it,” and urged Jenrick to pay mind to Sir Frank Layfield’s 1976 report, which called for a new constitutional settlement between central and local government.

“We argue that one of the systemic problems over the years has been governments engineering the funding system to favour councils of their own political hue. We favour the creation of an independent, non-political body that would take over the distribution of funding to local authorities, within a policy framework that governments can publicly alter,” he explained. 

Whiteman questioned whether the government intended to pursue further devolution in the letter, adding: “It is not rhetoric to say that England is one of the most centralised states in the developed world”.

If the government is to continue on a path of devolution “the finance system will need more radical reform and wider tax-raising powers linked to reorganisation,” he suggested in his letter.

To read the full letter click here

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