Thursday, September 20, 2018

Council Cuts Coming

Council bosses in England say the "worst is yet to come" in cuts to services, as the government further reduces local authority funding. Councils say they are expecting to have to switch funds from non-statutory services - the ones they are not obliged to provide by law - to ensure statutory services are provided.
The County Council Network predicts "unpalatable cutbacks" next year as the councils identify at least £1bn savings to plug a £1.5bn shortfall by 2020-21. The County Council Network represents 36 of the larger authorities  It also warns the risk of some councils stripping their services back to a minimum 'core offer' is growing.  Town hall bosses say local government funding from central government, through the revenue support grant, will have been cut by around 60% by 2020.
The County Council Network surveyed its members about their budgets and what they planned to cut next year. The 25 who responded said they faced significant cost pressures, including a growth in demand in some areas - particularly children's and adult social care, inflation and rising costs outside of their control. The survey revealed council bosses had already ear-marked £1bn worth of services as potential sources of savings. When councils were asked what they were planning to cut, moderately or severely:
  • 58% said highways and transport (including road improvements, streetlights, pothole filling)
  • 47% said libraries
  • 45% said early years and youth clubs.
  • 44% ear-marked public health services like smoking cessation, sexual health, substance misuse
  • 36% said children's services.

Councillor Nick Rushton, CCN finance spokesman and leader of Leicestershire County Council, said, "County councils across the country have no choice but to find a further £1bn of savings next year," he said. "There is not enough money today to run vital services. Next year there is even less from the drop in government funding. He added council tax rises alone would not protect services.

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