‘No Jam tomorrow for local councils - just gruel for the foreseeable future’
APSE, the association for public service excellence, which works with over 250 councils across the UK, has responded to the Chancellor’s spending review by suggesting that local council frontline services, that are not on a statutory footing, are seriously at risk from further cuts announced in the Chancellor’s statement.
Local councils have already faced budget reductions of up to 40% in some areas and now face a further cut to funding, which could be as high as 30%, if planned changes to DCLG’s budget are pass-ported down to council level. Direct grants to local government have already fallen by 27%. Whilst councils can be applauded for their innovation in handling these financial challenges it is widely acknowledged across local government that many councils are now facing a tipping point.
Commenting on the spending review APSE chief executive Paul O’Brien said “Whilst councils have had to cope with massive reductions in their budgets these are no longer sustainable. We could see a fundamental shift in councils opting to only provide the most basic of services to meet their statutory requirements. This would be a catastrophic mistake for councils and their communities. It is often the non-statutory services, in our public realm, which residents really value and, which in the long-term, contribute to health, participation in sport and help with initiatives to tackle anti-social behaviour.
“I am disappointed that the Chancellor has not recognised the spend to save opportunities that local councils present. For example whilst extra funding on housing is always to be welcomed not a thin dime appears to be heading towards local councils when we are in dire need of more council homes.
“ Whilst we all agree that social care for the most vulnerable is vital we can’t afford to ignore the day to day frontline services that impact on all our local residents. Whilst the 2% precept may provide a sticking plaster in social care we are trying to close a gaping wound across all council services. The Chancellor hasn’t even promised us jam tomorrow – just gruel for the foreseeable future”