Relentless financial cutbacks are putting the well-being of vulnerable adults and children at risk, the Conservative leader of the Local Government Association (LGA), Tory peer Lord Porter, has warned.
After eight years of austerity £16bn has been stripped from municipal budgets in England, councils risked being “damaged beyond recognition” and communities depleted of vital services. Council bosses have warned that in many areas these services are on the verge of collapse. Council leaders are also worried about the political consequences of having to sacrifice popular local services such as libraries, Sure Start centres, parks and leisure centres to divert funds into core services such as social care.
An £8bn black hole in council budgets would open up by 2023 unless ministers stepped in to close the gap between spiralling demand for adult and children’s social care services and shrinking town hall incomes, he said.
“We’ve reached a point where councils will no longer be able to support our residents as they expect, including our most vulnerable,” Porter added.
As well as problems coping with demand for services for elderly and disabled adults, the LGA says councils are struggling with an explosion in the number of children in care, and a rising bill for 80,000 homeless families placed in temporary housing.
Porter said: “Councils now spend less on early intervention, support for the voluntary sector has been reduced, rural bus services have been scaled back, libraries have been closed and other services have also taken a hit. More and more councils are struggling to balance their books and others are considering whether they have the funding to even deliver their statutory requirements."