No new funding for local government

The recent announcement that central government will not provide any new funding in 2017-18 for local government is hugely disappointing, though not surprising. Not least is the perilous state of local councils forcing many to consider technical insolvency as their reserves run out. Government policy since the Coalition has been towards localism; local decision making and, increasingly, local revenue raising. Whilst that provides welcome flexibility in directing local resources, the amount of revenue currently raised is not enough to satisfy all local needs with social care an obvious priority for us and the care providers we work with. But equally, our roads are in an appalling state, police forces are desperately short of funds and there is ever increasing pressure on children’s services and now, for the first time, education faces headline cuts on top of a persistent squeeze over the past decade. Subsidised buses have been cut (and school transport) and if we add in the steady depletion of local bumping places such as post offices, our local communities run the risk of becoming seriously fragmented to the detriment of vulnerable and elderly people.

It’s always hard to assess impact of cuts, efficiencies, or whichever synonym you prefer. But there’s absolutely no doubt that the current regime of cut and cut again will have long-term implications on the health and wellbeing of our communities. It’s certainly having a current impact on efficiency, as more personal traffic means those who do business by road, including home care staff already pressured by tight visiting timings, suffer delays in their journeys. The central government announcement, and the rejection of recent proposals for raising additional local revenue, through higher council taxes (see Surrey and Liverpool) means the end is nowhere in sight as public service funding continues to free-fall; a postcode lottery on provision of services is here to stay.

Generally, it’s not the fall that kills you, it’s the sudden stop. However, for publicly funded services there will be casualties along the way.