LAs : Financial Meltdown - Nationwide / Support Services CUTS : Council Tax Rises / Arrears

Discuss news stories and political issues that affect carers.
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Ground zero ... Northamptonshire ... and a headline :
Budget crisis takes Northamptonshire council into uncharted territory.


These are just the existing cuts plans: what is required in the next few months will take the council into uncharted territory. The two big areas of expenditure are adult and children’s social care. Expect tighter restrictions on who gets that care. The council has made clear that it will provide the legal minimum, to “those most in need only”.

The council’s Tory leader, Matthew Golby, promised that no vulnerable children would be put in danger despite the cuts and the council would meet its legal obligations to provide core services. Politically, he cannot say otherwise. In the next few months, his assertions will be severely tested.


Hopefully , a local reader will be able to report periodically from street level ?

Guess what's in store for family carers on that debt ridden manor ???

The first of ... many ???
Ground zero ... outsourcing ... and the price we ALL have to pay the piper :


https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfr ... ire-barnet



These councils smashed themselves to bits. Who will pick up the pieces ?

Northamptonshire and Barnet have pursued outsourcing and austerity to the point of collapse. The country will pay the price.


The people running an arm of the British state confessed last week that they can no longer do their job.

That is not how the collapse of Northamptonshire county council has been presented, but it is what’s happened. From now on it will provide only the legal minimum of services. From children in care to bin collection, all are in line for “radical reductions”. Normal service will not be resumed for years, if ever.

Nor is Northants alone. East Sussex says it will follow suit. Soon will come a third. Then a fourth. Make no mistake, this is a hinge point in British politics.

The obituaries for local government are already being written, and come in two flavours. For ministers, the calamity is local bungling; critics snort that town halls have been pulverised by the cuts imposed by David Cameron and Theresa May. Neither argument is wholly inaccurate, yet both miss the truth.

What is happening in Corby and other well-to-do authorities is the collapse of an entire ideology.


Call it pulverism, the idea that councils should use financial crises not merely to make savings but to smash up and reshape the public sector. Tried out here and there for decades, in the past few years pulverism has gone nationwide. Aiding and abetting and cheering it on have been the biggest beasts in Conservatism.

Under this regime, financial mismanagement isn’t opposed to austerity – but feeds upon it, as local officials hand over taxpayer cash to “project managers” on eye-watering day rates and any passing huckster in pinstripes. It leads to town halls being looted by multinationals for millions, even while adults with learning disabilities are turfed out of their homes to save pennies. If this sounds familiar that’s because what is playing out in local government is an extreme version of the story still unfolding in Whitehall. And one of the best places to see it is on the northern outskirts of the capital.

The London borough of Barnet is the alpha and omega of pulverism. It was a role model for Northamptonshire, and the two are eerily similar. Both true blue Tory; both preaching the need for sound finances while raiding their contingency funds and refusing to raise council taxes; both happy to chuck millions at consultants and build themselves swanky headquarters. And, crucially, both adamant that their council’s future lies in smashing itself up and handing out the shards to big companies to provide the bulk of public services.

Barnet’s plan was to slash direct employees from 3,200 to just 332, while Northamptonshire wanted to outsource 95% of its staff.

It was cartoonish, it was reckless, it was grotesque. Most of all, it was meant to serve as an example to the rest of the country of how the right can mobilise austerity for its own brutish ends. Northamptonshire is now a front-page scandal, but Barnet is one to watch.

I’ve been writing about it on these pages almost since the start of the great contracting out. Largely unnoticed by the newspapers, this summer the council confessed that it faces a giant financial black hole – precisely the fate that their masterplan was meant to safeguard against. The council will now have to cut services even more drastically. To heap on the humiliation, it must also rip up its outsourcing strategy.

Barnet’s Tories raced down this road even before the 2008 financial crash, eventually unveiling the “easyCouncil” model. Just as Cameron’s big alibi was that wretched note from Labour’s Liam Byrne, saying “there’s no money left”, so Barnet brandished a “graph of doom” showing its budgetary crunch. Bringing in the private sector – in particular the FTSE giant Capita, which snared two vast 10-year contracts worth about £500m – was meant to be the fix. It would ensure better public services for less money.

Wrong on both counts.

Under outsourcing, basic bits of local administration are now a bad joke. Barnet’s pensions are in such a state that last year the regulator fined Capita for not filing essential information on time. Roads, also managed by Capita, are so potholed that they became a big issue in the May elections. Recently a Capita employee working for Barnet was jailed for 62 instances of fraud worth a total of £2m. He had violated financial controls for well over a year, yet the council admitted to me that the crimes were spotted neither by it nor by Capita, but by the employee’s own bank.


All of this is costing not less money, but more. Just how much more not even the council’s leaders are clear. The Tories went into the May elections boasting of the borough’s financial stability; the next month they confessed to a black hole of £62m by the middle of next decade. To stave off ruin, the axe will be wielded again.

Both Barnet and Capita claim that outsourcing has delivered “significant financial savings”.

That is doubtless true on the core work contracted out – but outsourcing companies always make their money by charging for extras. Resident and blogger John Dix reviews the invoices submitted by Capita under the outsourcing contracts (256 for the last financial year alone) and can tell you what those extras typically include. A parent phoning the library to check if a Harry Potter is in stock? Capita used to charge £8 a call. Training for senior officers? Capita pockets £1,200 for just one session.

Just as I and others warned at the outset, having handed over so much to Capita, councillors have effectively lost control of their own council. Last month the council admitted to “significant issues” with Capita’s new system to manage social care – including the failure to “efficiently bill clients and pay invoices” – making it impossible to keep tabs on costs.


Not that Barnet isn’t trying to monitor its outsourcing contracts. It’s created an entire parallel administration to do so, costing £7.8m each year in pay and perks. Jorge Luis Borges wrote a story about a map matching precisely in size and detail the territory it depicted. Today, in the entrails of a suburban bureaucracy, his dream has at last come true.

All this cash could have been spent on something other than ideology. Take the £24m spent on management consultants primarily to draw up the plans for outsourcing, or the running total of £90m that Barnet has since shelled out on agency and temp workers: how many school dinners, carers for older residents or council houses could that have paid for?

Instead, that money has been spent on projects that served as a launchpad for a handful of careers, such as Mike Freer who as Barnet leader came up with the easyCouncil model and is today a Tory whip in the Commons. Or Nick Walkley, the former Barnet chief executive who was responsible for implementing that model and who now heads a Whitehall quango. Plum jobs for them, worsening public services for the residents left behind.

All this is directly linked to another issue stalking Britain: the rise of aggressively racist politics.

Under austerity, Cameron and his ministers took migrants’ taxes – then, with devastating cynicism, blamed migrants for putting pressure on the NHS, schools and other services that they themselves were starving of money. To further their own careers they fanned the embers of race hate.

In places like Northants and Barnet, residents who have already seen their child’s youth centre shut, their nan lose her care visits or their buses stop running will now see even sharper cuts to their services – purely to keep their councils alive. It will not be the councillors who cop the blame for that, nor the predatory outsourcing firms.

It will be the buggy-pushing mum in a headscarf, the teenager in a wheelchair trying to get on a crowded bus, the Polish guy on minimum wage. They’ll be the handy targets when frustrations rise and tempers blow. Because the point about pulverism is that it is never the originators who get pulverised.



Outsourcing ... PFI ... stable mates ?

Still , what does it REALLY matter if the taxpayers pick up the tab ... after a few have made their monies at our expense ???
Latest tombstone no LA wants to be on ... or readers on their manors seeking support services ?
NORTHAMPTON COUNTY COUNCIL

The council made national headlines after it issued a rare Section 114 notice - its second in a year - which effectively bans all new spending. It was part of an effort to save £60-70m during this financial year.

With services set to be stripped back to the bare minimum, there is concern among campaigners that vital facilities will face the axe. But council leader Matthew Golby says nobody will be put in danger.

Councillors have since voted to abolish the council entirely, replacing the county and seven district councils with two new unitary authorities from 2020 as it tries to get a grip on its financial future.

SOMERSET COUNTY COUNCIL

On Monday evening, the council announced £13m worth of extra cuts and the loss of up to 130 jobs as it seeks to tackle an £11.4m overspend that came predominately in children's services.

The 70 savings proposals, due to be voted on next week, include a reduced road gritting service, suspension of a town centre and hospital park and ride and a reduction in youth services.

The council leader says Somerset is at the "very sharp end" of continued austerity.

EAST SUSSEX COUNTY COUNCIL

East Sussex has the one of the oldest populations in the UK, meaning social care pressures in the region are particularly acute.

With demand increasing, in July the council announced a "core offer" to residents to meet its legal duties after a report forecast further required savings of up to £46m by 2021/22.

Short of specifics, the contents of this offer are due to be published soon.

BIRMINGHAM CITY COUNCIL

The council spent nearly £177m of its reserves to balance its budget in the last two years which "masked the council's true position", according to a July report by independent auditors.

Though the council is not in immediate danger it may miss its savings target of over £100m by 2021/22.

LANCASHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL

It too, like many other councils, has been over reliant on reserves in recent years. As a result the council's financial position is "at a tipping point", according to its auditors.

The report predicts "difficult decisions ahead" for the council as it endeavours to save £135m by 2022.

SUFFOLK COUNTY COUNCIL

A quarterly analysis revealed this council is set for a £8.6m overspend in 2018/19 - £5m of it on children's services.

This comes on top of a £5.2m overspend the year before, meaning more cuts to frontline services in the coming months.

SURREY COUNTY COUNCIL

A true-blue Conservative heartland and the local council of key cabinet ministers, Surrey has repeatedly used one-off measures over recent years to balance the budget - something its latest accounts warn is "not repeatable".

It threatened to hold a referendum on raising council tax by 15% such were its budgetary pressures, only to row back at the last moment.

TORBAY COUNCIL

As a pre-emptive measure to avoid running into reserves, unitary authority Torbay has introduced a spending moratorium, effectively outlawing non-urgent purchases - a measure that could mean the cancellation of next year's Torbay Air Show.

The council's chief executive Steve Parrock says they have not run out of money or reserves but are facing increased demand combined with Government funding cuts.

WEST SUSSEX COUNTY COUNCIL

As a pre-emptive measure to avoid running into reserves, unitary authority Torbay has introduced a spending moratorium, effectively outlawing non-urgent purchases - a measure that could mean the cancellation of next year's Torbay Air Show.

The council's chief executive Steve Parrock says they have not run out of money or reserves but are facing increased demand combined with Government funding cuts.

HARTLEPOOL BOROUGH COUNCIL

The 2019/20 budget is the "most challenging the council has ever faced" as it seeks to address a projected deficit of nearly £6m - an increase from the £1.4m shortfall previously predicted.

Savings have yet to be identified but chiefs are blaming factors outside the council's control including nine successive years of austerity, inflation and increasing social care pressures.

OXFORDSHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL

Over a two to three-year period up to 890 council jobs could be lost as the council considers a revamp to increase digital investment and make use of new technology such as drones. The proposal could save up to £58m over five years without cutting key services.

While the council is under no immediate threat, the proposed measures represent a drastic attempt to save money without slashing frontline services.

A new draft funding settlement for 2019/20 is due to be published in the autumn and released in 2019. For some councils, extra funds cannot come too soon.


Their only remedy ?

INCREASE Council Tax even more ... and watch as those in arrears explode to around 1 in 3 on their manors.

Madness ... sheer madness !

For readers on these manors ... Needs and Carer Assessments ... HOW MANY WILL EXPERIENCE BLATANT BREACHES OF THE PROVISIONS OF THE CARE ACT , 2014 ?

Your remedy ???

LA Ombudsman !

Oh dear , just do a search ... LA OMBUDSMAN COMPLAINTS ... and see the results.

Now added to the " Technical " list for DG to ponder on during his forthcoming session on this forum.
What's even more fundamental for us is in the delivery of social care support services ... the LAs are responsible for this.

No wonder family / kinship carers are experiencing cutbacks at a record level.

Time for the Green Paper to change the System before it finally collapses.

When it does , no guesses as to who will have to pick up the pieces.

Caring in crisis ?

You ain't seen nothing yet !
The new wave to sweep throughout CarerLand gains momentum :

" Lost for words " : Somerset cuts £28m of help for most vulnerable.

Tory council latest casualty of drastic austerity measures imposed on local government.


On Wednesday, the eight-person cabinet of Somerset county council voted through £28m of spending cuts, spread over the next two years. Over the previous six months, speculation had raged over whether Somerset would become the next Conservative-run council to join Northamptonshire in effectively going bankrupt and calling in government commissioners to sort out its mess.

And here was the answer, delivered at not much more than a week’s notice. To avoid a final disastrous plunge into the red, there would be a hacking-down of help for vulnerable families and children with special educational needs, youth services, road-gritting, flood prevention, and much more.



Like that infamous UC steamroller , whose manor will be next ???
The momentum gathers pace :
Proposals would see 44 of Norfolk’s 51 children’s centres close.

Forty-four of Norfolk’s 53 children’s centres could be closed after council bosses finally revealed proposals for a review of the service.


I'll try to be selective ... 5+ posts a day , daily ?

And that's just the tip of the iceberg.

Even a daily sweepstake ... name the first LA to appear on tomorrow's post ?
" £1 BILLION in unpalatable county council cuts " ahead in England.

Council bosses in England say the " Worst is yet to come " in cuts to services, as the government further reduces local authority funding.

The County Council Network predicts " Unpalatable cutbacks " next year as the councils identify at least £1 BILLION savings to plug a £1.5 BILLION shortfall by 2020.

It also warns the risk of some councils stripping their services back to a minimum " Core offer " is growing.



Well , time to bury the Care Act as NO LA is NOT breaching it's provisions ???

Green Paper ... Support ... free / affordable ... our number 2 priority.

Bid farewelll to that hope as well ???

Be " Nice " for once to say " Hello " to something >

Fairer for Carers ?

Like losing a £ 1 and finding 80p ???
English councils brace for biggest government cuts since 2010 despite 'unprecedented' budget pressures

Main source of government funding for local authorities set to be slashed by 36 per cent next year, warn councils


Councils are facing the biggest cuts to government funding since 2010 despite unprecedented pressure and demand, which could risk “tipping many over the edge”, local authorities have warned.

Figures show that the revenue support grant – the main source of government funding for local services – will be cut by 36 per cent next year, marking the largest annual deduction in almost a decade.

It comes despite repeated warnings that continuing cuts to vital local authority provisions mean vulnerable people, such as the elderly, at-risk children and homeless people, are being left to “fend for themselves”.

An analysis by the Local Government Association (LGA) reveals that, overall, councils will have suffered a 77 per cent decrease in the government funding between 2015/16 and next year, dropping from £9,927m in 2015-16 to £2,284m in 2019-20.

Almost half of all councils (168) will receive no support grant next year – marking a threefold rise on this year and a more than tenfold increase on 2017/18, the figures show.



Green Rizla Paper ... so much for our second priority ... FREE / AFFORDABLE SUPPORT SERVICES ???
At long last , some resistance ... mind you , a very affluent area ...

https://www.theguardian.com/education/2 ... ds-funding

Families take Surrey council to court over special needs funding.

High court assessing legality of council’s decision to cut Send funding by £21m.

A group of children and their parents have gone to the high court to try to quash a decision by their local council to cut more than £21m from its special educational needs and disabilities (Send) budget.

The public gallery of court three in the Royal Courts of Justice in London was packed with children, parents and supporters on Tuesday as an application for judicial review got under way to assess the legality of Surrey county council’s decision.

The claim has been brought by five Surrey children with special educational needs and their mothers, and paid for by a crowdfunding appeal that is being replicated in other areas of the country that are also facing potential cuts to Send provision.

Jenni Richards, the QC for the families, said it was common knowledge that local authorities were under financial pressure and had to make difficult choices, but she said such decisions had to be made on an informed basis.

The Surrey families claim the council’s decision to cut Send funding in 2018-19 by £21m, approved at a meeting in March, was unlawful because it was made without consultation with those who would be affected.

They also claim the council is in breach of its public sector equality duty and that members failed to “have regard to the need to safeguard and promote the welfare of children when taking a decision to significantly reduce funding for services for a group of highly vulnerable children,” as required by the Children Act 2004.

Richards told the court that even before the cuts were agreed there were already concerns about Send provision in Surrey. An inspection by Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission in October 2016 identified significant weaknesses and said “considerable work” was required to bring services up to standard.

The court heard there had been a significant increase in demand for Sen services in the county between 2010/11 and 2017/18, which meant there was already insufficient funding to meet demand.

The council says the parents’ claim for judicial review should be dismissed. In documents submitted to the court, it denied that the Send budget set by the council cabinet was an indiscriminate cut to services as characterised by the families.

It argues that the decision in question was not about altering or reducing Send services but about the council’s financial and accounting arrangements, and that such budgets “are not set in stone”.

It is not just parents watching the Surrey case. Cash-strapped councils across the country that are desperately looking for opportunities to make savings will also be keeping a close eye on proceedings.

Last month, in a case that is being heavily relied upon by the Surrey families, Bristol city council was forced to cancel planned cuts of £5m to its Send budget after a court ruled that the council had acted illegally. Surrey council claims the two cases are quite different.

A similar hearing into Hackney council’s Sen plans is scheduled for next month. And last week two families from East Sussex and North Yorkshire with children with Sen became the latest to launch a crowdfunding appeal to bring a legal challenge to cuts, this time against the government, which they say is providing local authorities with insufficient money to fulfil their legal obligations to Send pupils.

The Surrey case continues and is expected to last two days.


Hardly " The Street " expressing an opinion , complete with flashing blue lights and deafening sirens , but .. ANY resistance is to be encouraged and applauded.

Whose next ???
... and so the denials continue ...
Treasury minister Liz Truss falsely claims government is not making cuts to councils, in BBC Newsnight interview.

Extraordinary denial comes after Tory local government leader warned that more councils will go bust unless ministers 'address the funding crisis.'


CloudCuckooLand ... perhaps ?

What's next ... " Let them eat cake ! " ... or , as already been said ... " Foodbanks are rather uplifting " ???
82 posts