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Were running out of money message to Chancellor

Blog Post 15 November 2017

For a long time I have concluded that the way we care as a nation is a fiscal choice.

If we require good care, we must be prepared to spend money. Exactly how that funding is raised is still currently with the cross-party committee.

Over the last few days some journalists have been taken by a press release from the Local Government Association that warns 60 per cent of council tax will be spent on social care by 2020.

Just 6p in every £1 of council tax will be spent on collecting bins and recycling by 2020.

Only 2p in every £1 will be spend on bus services, with roads and street lighting services receiving 5p in every £1 by 2020, LGA research found.

Councillor Claire Kober, chair of the LGA’s Resources Board, says: “Councils will be asking people to pay similar levels of council tax while, at the same time, warning communities that the quality and quantity of services they enjoy could drop.’

Cllr Kober adds: ‘The Government must recognise that councils cannot continue without sufficient and sustainable resources. Local government must be able to keep every penny of taxation raised locally to plug funding gaps and pay for the vital local services our communities rely on.’

Government plans to allow local government as a whole to keep all of its business rates income by the end of the decade are in doubt after the Local Government Finance Bill, which was passing through parliament before the election, was not reintroduced in the Queen’s Speech.

Inevitably, money is running out at the sharp end of administration.

By 2020, local government in England will have lost 75 pence out of every £1 of Revenue Support Grant funding that it received from government to spend in 2015. Almost half of all councils - 168 councils - will no longer receive any of this core central government funding by 2019/20.

Uncertainty abounds and as part of the Autumn Budget submission the LGA is seeking permission for councils to keep all of the business rates it collects locally each year to plug growing funding gaps.  A fairer system of distributing funding between councils is also needed, it adds.

The figures are scary. Quote: “Local government in England faces a £5.8 billion funding gap by 2020. Even if councils stopped filling potholes, maintaining parks and open spaces, closed all children’s centres, libraries, museums, leisure centres, turned off every street light and shut all discretionary bus routes they still would not have saved enough money to plug this gap in just two years.

“An extra £1.3 billion is also needed right now just to stabilise the perilously fragile care provider market.

“The Government must recognise that councils cannot continue without sufficient and sustainable resources. Local government must be able to keep every penny of taxation raised locally to plug funding gaps and pay for the vital local services our communities rely on.”

The LGA is calling for councils to be allowed to keep all of the business rates collected locally to help fund services. It also wants the Government to set out how it intends to fund councils to meet future inflation and demand for services.

Chancellor Philip Hammond faces an incredibly difficult juggling job later this month, but be assured, West Midlands Care Association will be doing all its can to squeeze some money from the purse in the direction of social care provision.

Debbie Le Quesne - CEO West Midlands Care Association