Council leaders express hope £3.5bn for town halls is ‘new money’

2 Sep 19

The prime minister’s £3.5m package for councils, expected to be announced in this week’s Spending Round, would be a “very welcome contribution” if it is not money that has already been announced.

This was the view of an umbrella-group after prime minister Boris Johnson told The Sunday Times over the weekend of the funding pledge, saying £1bn will be earmarked to tackle the crisis in adult social care.

He did not specify whether the funding would just be for English councils. 

Chairman-elect of the County Councils Network David Williams said the announcement was “encouraging”.

But he added: “We are confident ministers are listening, but as ever, the devil will be in the detail. We eagerly await further details of the funding envelope next week.

If this represents new funding – distributed fairly between councils – this would be a significant and very welcome contribution to helping councils close our funding shortfall and protect frontline services next year.

“We can then turn our attention to working with government to deliver sustainable long-term funding, and crucially, secure a cast iron commitment to the implementation of the fair funding review.”

Details of the fair funding review, which is supposed to begin in April 2020, are up in the air with CIPFA, London Councils and the County Council Network all casting doubt on the feasibility of this start date.

Meanwhile, Simon Bottery, senior fellow for social care at the King’s Fund think-tank, was quick to pour cold water on the £1bn earmarked for social care.  

He said on Twitter: “Demand increases at nearly 4% a year so this is the lowest round number you can provide to meet it. And it does nothing about market fragility, careworker pay, unmet need etc.”



A report by charity Age UK, released on Saturday, warned of “total system collapse” of the social care sector unless the government provides “very substantial additional investment into care services”.

In response to the report, the Health Foundation think-tank suggested that £1bn would be needed to prevent the sector collapsing but added: “This is just a sticking plaster”.

Last month, social care leaders told PF that a no deal Brexit would exacerbate problems in the sector particularly regarding workforce shortages.

Health experts earlier this month aruged the £1.8bn Johnson had announced for NHS infrastrucutre was money they already had

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