Dozens of English councils discriminate against children with autism, legal experts say.
After a decade of deep and sustained reductions to local government budgets, councils across the country must find further savings next year as main grant funding, the money local authorities receive from central government to provide services, is cut by a further £1.3billion (or 36%).
HuffPost UK has been exploring how the loss of individual services at a local level link up to paint a national portrait of austerity in our series What It’s Like To Lose. As part of that, we have asked council leaders what it is like to sit at that table and decide where to put the black lines.
The task was described by one former Labour finance chief as “brutal” while another Conservative town hall boss said in some ways the role was “a poisoned chalice”.
It does show that we are really, really short of money that we’re actually doing this. I mean there is no money.Richard Cornelius, Conservative leader of Barnet Council
Local authorities have already lost 60 per cent of their central government funding over the last decade, substantially more than any other area of government.
And it is in the loss of valued frontline community services that the impact of this austerity drive is most keenly felt by communities across England.
Regardless of their political stripes, the council leaders each called on central government to invest in local government saying the cuts have now gone far enough. But some were keen to say that this should not be at the expense of further borrowing by government.
So acute are the financial challenges that even the most basic services – such as libraries, school lollipop patrols, street lighting, road repairs, cemetery maintenance, gritting – are now being considered for savings.
HuffPost UK delved into reduction proposals at five local authorities across the country, and found all of these services mentioned in the various plans.
The majority of people in England have not made plans for how they will pay for adult social care in older age, according to research.
A public poll by BritianThinks, commissioned by the Local Government Association (LGA), found that only 15% of adults were making plans for how they would pay for care they might need in the future. Meanwhile, 50% of a group of 1,741 adults surveyed said they had never thought about how they would pay for care when they get older.
A lack of awareness about council social care services was also highlighted by the poll. Around half of adults (48%) said they had “little to no understanding” of what the term social care meant, compared to a much smaller 13% of people who said they knew what the term meant and had a good understanding of it.
Around 5% of people said they had never heard of the term ‘social care’ at all, with 44% of those surveyed thinking social care was provided by the NHS. More than a quarter (28%) believed social care was free at the point of access.
Improving public understanding
Following the results, the LGA has called on the government to lead a national campaign to heighten the profile and reputation of adult social care, with a particular focus on improving understanding social care and ensuring people are prepared for potential care costs.
Chairman of the LGA’s community wellbeing board, councillor Ian Hudspeth, said: “This polling raises real concerns over how prepared people are for their own care needs, or the care of their loved ones.
“Half of the public polled have little or no understanding of what social care means, whilst only 15 per cent of people are making plans to pay for their care in later life, with those from poorer social backgrounds half as likely to have a plan in place compared to those in wealthier social circumstances.”
Responding to a report by Voluntary Organisations Disability Group on adult social care funding, Cllr Ian Hudspeth, Chairman of the LGA’s Community Wellbeingboard, said:
“With people living longer, increases in costs and decreases in funding, adult social care is at breaking point.
“Over recent years, councils have protected adult social care relative to other services. But the scale of the overall funding picture for local government as a whole means adult social care services still face a £3.5 billion funding gap by 2025, just to maintain existing standards of care. The likely consequences of this are more and more people being unable to get quality and reliable care and support, which enables them to live more fulfilling lives.
“Action is needed, which is why, following government’s decision to delay its green paper on adult social care, the consultation to drive forward the public debate on what sort of care and support we need to improve people’s wellbeing and independence, the need to focus on prevention work, and, crucially, how we fund these vital services.”
*The LGA’s green paper is available here. The consultation closed on 26 September.
So the ‘LGA is calling for councils’ funding problems to be addressed through a government spending review expected in spring 2019, which is likely to set out public services funding plans over the four years to 2023.’. However, by then will there be any councils left, especially for social care.
Will the funding commence in 2019 or much later, when it should have commenced from 2017 or much earlier.
Again, those who can least afford it are being left to suffer, where is the quality of life.
“These findings reinforce our warning about the urgent need to reform adult social care and deliver a long-term sustainable solution that delivers a range of
Funding cuts have pushed children’s social services to “breaking point” with action only being taken to protect youngsters once they are at imminent risk of harm, council leaders warn today. Painting a damning picture of the state of children’s social care, a report from the Local Government Association (LGA) says cuts to early intervention services have led to an “unprecedented surge” in demand for urgent child protection support.
The CQC has joined with a number of partners to launch the ‘Quality matters’ commitment to help drive improvements in adult social care.
A lukewarm response is probably a fair summary of the reaction to the government’s new funding boost for social care in England. The council tax increases had been much trailed. There was also an extra injection of Whitehall cash. But it is a short term fix which only begins to address the major policy challenges around social care. Rather than a total of 6% increases in council tax over three years, ring-fenced for social care, English local authorities will be permitted to impose 6% over two years so bringing forward revenue. Central government will top up the pot with £240m for next year funded from savings elsewhere in Whitehall. There has been a cautious welcome in some quarters and robust criticism in others with reminders that, thanks to government cuts, adult social care budgets in England have been reduced significantly since 2010. Reality Check: Is social care getting more money? Laura Kuenssberg: How can social care be funded? Care: The alternative options All are agreed
So some Tories are listening and demanding appropriate action, however, will it be too little too late, we can only hope it is not.