Communities across the country will see many of their local services face further reductions this year despite paying more council tax, the Local Government Association has warned
With town halls across the country setting their final budgets and council tax levels over the next few weeks, extensive research by the LGA reveals:
- 147 out of England’s 152 social care authorities are considering or have approved an adult social care precept in 2018/19. This will raise an extra £548 million in total to pay for social care services this year. The LGA is warning this will be wiped out by the cost of paying for the Government’s National Living Wage. Councils also face the risk of having to pay at least £400 million in back-pay liabilities for sleep-in carers.
- 108 of these councils (71 per cent) will be increasing general council tax by 2.95 per cent or above. In total, general council tax increases will raise a further £584 million for local services in 2018/19. This compares to core central government funding to councils being cut by £1.4 billion this year alone.
- 64 councils (42 per cent) are considering or have approved increasing council tax by 5.99 per cent (2.99 per cent general increase plus 3 per cent social care precept) in 2018/19.
- 75 social care councils (49 per cent) will be unable to levy any social care precept in 2019/20 when services caring for the elderly and disabled will face an annual funding gap of £2.3 billion. Councils have been able to front-load social care precept increases by up to 3 per cent in both 2017/18 and 2018/19. However, the total social care precept allowed in the three years to 2019/20 cannot exceed 6 per cent.
- Five social care councils have approved or intend to freeze council tax completely this year.
- For 88 shire districts with the lowest council tax levels the new 2.99 general limit does not provide any more spending power, as they can already increase council tax by 3 per cent or more as a £5 increase is greater than a 3 per cent increase. If all district councils use their full council tax flexibilities in 2018/19 they would raise an additional £66 million to fund local services.
With local government facing an overall funding gap that will exceed £5 billion by 2020, the LGA is warning these council tax rises will not prevent the need for continued cutbacks to all local services this year. Councils will also have to continue to divert ever-dwindling resources from other local services, including filling potholes, maintaining our parks and green spaces and running children’s centres, leisure centres and libraries, to try and plug growing funding gaps in adult social care, children’s services and homelessness support.
The LGA said the Government needs to urgently address the growing funding gaps facing local services and provide the financial sustainability and certainty needed to protect the local services our communities rely on by committing to allow local government as a whole to keep every penny of business rates collected.
NOTES TO EDITORS
- By the end of the decade, local government in England will have lost 75 pence out of every £1 of core central government funding that it had to spend in 2015.
- LGA analysis has warned that for every £1 of council tax collected by councils in 2019/20, 56p will be spent on caring for the elderly, vulnerable adults and children. This is up from 41p in 2010/11. As a result less funding will be available to be spent on other vital services. For example, 6p in every £1 of council tax by 2020 could be spent on collecting bins and recycling, 5p in every £1 on improving roads and street-lighting, 2p in every £1 on bus services and just over 1p in every £1 on trading standards, licensing and food safety.