Social Care Funding
Commenting on today’s Budget which announced no extra funding for Social Care, Cllr Howard Sykes, LGA Lib Dem Group Leader, said:
“Adult social care faces a deficit of £2.8 billion by the end of the decade. The Chancellor and Conservative government have today betrayed our elderly and disabled people who depend on care services, with no extra funding whatsoever. This also sends a message that if you need social care, you should go to hospital. If government wants to reduce the pressures on the health service and keep people out of hospital in the first place, then it must tackle the chronic under-funding of care and support services in the community, which are at a tipping point.
“The Liberal Democrat plan to raise £6bn a year for our health and social care services through a penny on the pound in income tax is an idea whose time has come. In addition, central government’s cuts to councils’ public health budgets, which fund vital prevention work that improves the health of children, young people and adults, reducing the need for expensive NHS treatment further down the line, need to be reversed.”
Children’s services funding
On Children’s Services, Cllr Ruth Dombey, Group Deputy Lib Dem Leader, added: “It is disgraceful that today’s Budget has not provided any additional funding for children’s services.
“The government has been warned repeatedly that ongoing funding cuts have left councils struggling to provide the support that vulnerable children and families need, with major charities and independent experts joining the LGA’s call for additional resources to be provided urgently to help keep children safe.
“This vital service is rapidly becoming unsustainable. A further £2 billion funding gap will have opened up in just over two years’ time, and this gap is likely to grow even larger unless immediate action is taken to address the growing demand for child protection services.
“Last year, 90 children entered care every single day. It was the biggest annual increase witnessed since 2013. This has to be the wake up call to government that unless there is an injection of funding to support crucial early intervention services, many more vulnerable children and families will need formal support from council child protection services in the years to come.
“Last year, 75 per cent of councils were forced to overspend their budgets by millions to ensure children at immediate risk of harm were protected. We’ve reached a tipping point where this service can no longer be ignored. It is absolutely crucial that the forthcoming Local Government Finance Settlement addresses this funding gap.”
“Plans unveiled by Phillip Hammond today will fall well short of having a meaningful impact on the housing crisis facing Britain, let alone solving it,” says Cllr Heather Kidd, Chair of the LGA Liberal Democrat Group.
“The announcement will mean little to the thousands in our society who are paying extortionate rents, those waiting to get on the housing ladder or suffering homelessness.
“After Sajid Javid’s call for the £50 billion he feels is needed to be made available for house building, the chancellor had an opportunity to do something radical today to help these individuals and families but the Tories have let the people of Britain down once again.
“The government did announce that it would lift the housing borrowing cap for some, however councils need to be given full powers in order to resume their role as the builders of our nation’s homes. It is no use lifting the cap for only some councils, the government needs to ensure that all areas of the country can borrow to invest in house building in order for Britain to have the safe and affordable homes it need and deserves.”
Plastic waste charge
Commenting on the news that the government will be looking at a charge for plastic waste, Cllr Alan Connett, LGA Liberal Democrat Chief Whip, said: “The Lib Dems have long been demanding action to tackle plastic waste. It was of course the Lib Dems who introduced the plastic bag charge while in government. We now need to make sure this consultation leads to real action, works closely with local councils and isn’t just kicking the cup down the road.
“Our environment and wildlife cannot wait any longer for tough measures to reduce plastic debris polluting our rivers, seas and countryside. Introducing a charge on disposable cups, like the plastic bag charge, could change people’s behaviour and help protect the planet. It’s also a win-win as on a local level it will help councils and communities to tackle littering and reduce waste and landfill charges.”
Cllr Claire Hudson, LGA Lib Dem Spokesperson on Welfare said: “The Liberal Democrats have been telling the government for months that Universal Credit (UC) wasn’t working, so we welcome its U-turn. Too many people have suffered as a result of their dithering. The overall system is still not fit for purpose. It must be halted and overhauled before even more of our most vulnerable citizens are made to suffer on the ideological high altar of the Tories.
“The Chancellor has ignored the £3 billion cut that was taken out of UC by George Osborne in 2015, which effectively destroyed the founding principles of the changes.
“The self-employed and single parents are still being shockingly treated, and many people will still face the risk of eviction because of the government making it difficult for UC recipients having their rent paid direct to landlords.”
Responding to the devolution deals announced in today’s Autumn Budget, Cllr Abi Bell, LGA Lib Dem City Regions Spokesperson, said: “We have been waiting for over 20 months for the announcement of another Devo deal. It’s about time in our view, but also disappointing the chancellor didn’t have more to say on the issue.
“It is good news for those living in the North of Tyne region and the West Midlands as we want residents to be able to enjoy ‘devolution delight’ rather than suffer ‘devolution deadlock’ so it is good news to see these “deals” include greater powers and funding to improve local transport, housing, health and social care and to equip local people with the skills they need to secure employment and prosper.
“The longer it takes to secure new devolution deals, the longer communities will have to wait to benefit from the opportunities currently available to areas where devolution has taken place. government needs to engage in an honest and open debate about the best form of governance able to foster thriving local economies across the country, including non-metropolitan areas, to ensure that opportunities for growth are not lost.
“With the forthcoming Industrial Strategy likely to place a premium on the ability of local leaders to drive growth and improve productivity in their areas, the Conservative government risks leaving those without devolution deals at a competitive disadvantage, reliant on national government to support local success.”