Councils in South West have serious concerns about the future of services
Posted on: 21 February 2017
“We are seriously concerned that the final local government settlement announced yesterday provides no new funding for councils in 2017/18 and has totally failed to address the crisis in social care.
“The South West faces particular problems as the region with the largest proportion of elderly people in the country (20% of the population). We are committed to providing good services particularly to the most vulnerable groups in society and this settlement does not help us in anyway.
“In addition, cuts to New Homes Bonus funding will leave two thirds of councils having to find millions more in savings than expected to plug funding gaps next year.
“Whilst we welcome the ability to raise additional council tax this income will not bring in anywhere near enough money to cover the costs of the services needed to protect the old, the young and the vulnerable.
“We desperately need an urgent review of local government finance as the increase demand now being put on local government is not adequately funded by central government. The demand for our services is rising at a time when the government are reducing our expenditure.”
“It is hugely disappointing that today’s settlement has confirmed that government will not provide any new funding for councils in 2017/18.
“Almost all social care councils have found it impossible to turn down the chance to raise money for social care through council tax rises in 2017/18. But increasing council tax raises different amounts of money for social care in different parts of the country and the extra income raised will be swallowed up by the cost to councils of paying for the Government’s National Living Wage.
“Social care faces a funding gap of at least £2.6 billion by 2020. It cannot be left to council taxpayers alone to try and fix this.
“Councils, the NHS, charities and care providers remain united around the desperate need for new government funding for social care. By continuing to ignore these warnings, social care remains in crisis and councils and the NHS continue to be pushed to the financial brink.
“The Government cannot ignore this any longer. Genuinely new government money for social care is urgently needed. Without this, our most vulnerable continue to face an ever uncertain future where they might no longer receive the dignified care and support they deserve, such as help getting dressed or getting out and about, which is crucial to their independence and wellbeing.
“Councils face an overall £5.8 billion funding gap by 2020. This will push councils perilously close to the financial edge over the next few years and force them all to make significant reductions to the local services communities rely on, including filling potholes, collecting waste, maintaining our parks and green spaces and running children’s centres, leisure centres and libraries, to plug growing funding gaps.
“If our cherished local services are to survive the next few years and beyond, it is imperative that the Government now uses the Spring Budget to take urgent steps to improve the immediate funding outlook for local government and secure its financial sustainability in the long-term.”
South West Councils is a membership organisation drawing together elected representatives from councils in the South West, stretching from Gloucestershire to the Isles of Scilly and across to Swindon, Wiltshire Dorset, Bournemouth & Poole. Membership includes police, fire & rescue services and parish and town councils.
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