Local authorities failing most vulnerable because of cuts
A damning report published today has revealed the catastrophe facing Britain’s worst-off regions as coalition government austerity measures continue.
Many local authorities already cannot meet their statutory duties to their most vulnerable people, including children.
The Austerity Uncovered report was commissioned by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) and prepared by the Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES).
It says that the financial crisis enveloping local authorities is deepening.
The report reveals the government’s original proposals expected austerity to be 6.7 per cent of GDP. This is now expected to hit 10.3 per cent — £210 billion instead of £120bn.
By 2015–16 the government will have reduced funding to local authorities by 37 per cent, leaving them facing an annual £12.4bn “black hole.”
Meanwhile means-tested social care funding has been cut by 12 per cent, despite demand rising 14 per cent.
And 87 per cent of councils now provide adult social care only in cases of “substantial” or “critical” need, compared to 47 per cent in 2005–06.
The number of older people helped has plummeted by 27 per cent, and young disabled people by 17 per cent.
Cuts have also closed 580 children’s centres.
“This government is taking a sledgehammer to public services and local government,” TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said.
“Adult social care is in crisis and children’s services are under increasing attack. With cuts on this scale it will be impossible to protect local services.
“The tragedy is that the cuts have been disproportionate — those local authorities with the greatest need have been the worst hit.”
Britain’s worst-off regions are suffering the heaviest cuts.
In the deprived north-east of England, 11 out of 12 councils suffer higher than average spending reductions — 3.9 per cent compared to 2.9 per cent.
Local authorities are having to abandon the principle of universal services, with increased use of rationing, targeting and thresholds, significant cutbacks in adult care, particularly home care, and increasing privatisation of services.
However some councils are working with unions, other partners and communities to protect services and make spending decisions.