Children’s services are the top pressure for councils, a report about the state of local authority finance has revealed.
Children’s Services is now the top immediate pressure for councils, above Adult Social Care for the first time in at least three years, said the report, suggesting that councils are no longer able to shield these services from the worst of the ongoing budget cut.
“This is likely a result of a combination of factors,” said the report published by the LGIU and MJ. “After 8 years of diminishing local authority budgets, councils are no longer able to shield Children’s Services from the worst of the cuts. At the same time, demand is increasing due to rising numbers of child protection enquiries, cuts in the Early Intervention Grant, Universal Credit among other things.”
Over a third of respondents indicated that their council would be reducing activity in Children’s Services and in their Youth Centres because of financial constraints, said the report.
Adult Social Care remains the greatest long-term pressure for councils and 40% of respondents expect to see a reduction in their adult social care activity this year due to financial constraints.
Nearly all councils in England plan to raise council tax and increase charging in order to make ends meet this year and two thirds of councils will be forced to dip into their reserves. 80% of councils fear for their financial sustainability.
One in 10 said there is a danger that they cannot fulfill their statutory duties due to a lack of funding.
Councils face continued uncertainty about the source and level of funding post-2020 as political turmoil in Westminster has delayed crucial decisions on business rate retention, the new funding formula and devolution, said the report.
Over two thirds of councils say they want a commitment to maintain 2017 levels of funding for three years in order to aid medium term financial planning.