You simply cannot empower local government if you impoverish it – Pearce
Commenting on the LGA’s warning that local authorities face a £5.8 billion funding black hole by 2020, Teresa Pearce, Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, said:
“The £5.8billion funding gap facing local councils is a damning indictment of this Government’s indifference to the fate of communities across the country. Year after year, councils have warned that the sheer scale of cuts they have been dealt will lead to a tipping point. Now, we are at that tipping point, and the Government is simply not listening.
“The scale of funding cuts that local government has endured – predicted by the IFS to be a 79% cut in direct funding by 2020 – will leave them able to only offer a threadbare service, such as the minimum statutory services in adult social care and child protection, and little else. The libraries and museums have already been closed, youth services have been cut back and all viable efficiency savings have been made.
“There is an unprecedented crisis in social care, with care providers handing contracts back to councils, 1.2 million elderly people living without the care they need and bed-blocking in the NHS at an all-time high. Yet the Government failed to provide a penny extra for social care in the Local Government Finance Settlement. The Prime Minister’s claims of “new funding for social care” amount to nothing more than pushing the numbers around in existing budgets.
“Councils, such as Surrey County Council, have been forced into the unwelcome position of holding a referendum on steep council tax rises in an attempt to plug the funding gap. But council tax rises are a short-term sticking plaster for a problem that needs long-term solutions.
“Local councils play an invaluable role in society – caring for our elderly, looking after the disabled and supporting our young people. It is local services that support, shape and enrich the communities we live in. You simply cannot empower local government if you impoverish it.”