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LAs : Financial Meltdown - Nationwide / Support Services CUTS : Council Tax Rises / Arrears : Pressure On Budgets - Page 2 - Carers UK Forum

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

Discuss news stories and political issues that affect carers.
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Further warnings as expressed in this article from today's Independent :

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/p ... 67341.html

Councils face 'decades more austerity' as social care set to account for half of town hall revenues.

Councils could also be forced to squeeze budgets on other public services such as housing, bin collections and roads, IFS says.

Councils could face "decades more austerity" amid spiralling social care costs unless the Government rethinks a major overhaul of town hall finding, an influential thinktank has warned.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) warned that social care could account for half of all taxes raised by local authorities by 2035, with vulnerable elderly people facing patchy access to help for basic tasks such as getting out of bed.

Councils could also be forced to squeeze budgets on other public services such as housing, bin collections and roads to cope with the soaring demand for social care from the ageing population, the IFS said.

It comes after Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt announced plans for a cap on punitive social care costs - shifting away from the unpopular decision to scrap a cap in the Tory election manifesto.

"The Government has to decide whether it thinks adult social care is ultimately a local responsibility, where councils can offer different levels of service, or a national responsibility with common standards across England," said Polly Simpson, the report's co-author.

"If it opts for the latter, it cannot expect a consistent service to be funded by councils' revenues, which are increasingly linked to local capacity to generate council tax and business rates revenues.

"In that case, centralised funding for social care would seem more appropriate, and could allow closer integration with the NHS, which is also centrally funded. But it would make England even more centralised than now, and go against the Government's devolution agenda."

Under current plans, town halls will lose their general grant funding from 20202, leaving them dependent on council tax and business rates to raise cash for public services.

If council tax revenues were to increase by 4.5 per cent a year, then social care spending could eat up half of all the revenues raised by local taxes by 2035, up from the current figure of 30 per cent, the IFS said.

The thinktank suggested the Government could ring-fence grants to top up councils' own tax revenues, although there was no guarantee they would actually be spent on social care as councils could simply cut back the amount of their own money which they allocate.

If ministers wanted to ensure ring-fenced grants were spent in full on social care, then the IFS said the services would have to be fully funded by central government grant.

Labour said the findings should act as a "wakeup call" to ministers over the extent of the "social care crisis".

Shadow social care minister Barbara Keeley said: “The Tories’ decision to abolish grant funding without clear plans for how councils will replace that money is looking increasingly reckless.

“Many councils with the highest demand for social care are the least able to raise money through council tax and business rates. Yet, this Tory Government have no plans in place to make sure that those councils can fulfil their duties to provide adult social care."

Part of the above I could have written myself !

NHS / social care ... from the cradle to the grave !

First step , reintegrate ... the rest will follow ... including funding for both from GENERAL taxation !
Been waiting for another one ... more like waiting for a bus ?

Whole host , this one from the Guardian won by a country mile :

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/20 ... me-on-cuts

English councils warn 'worst is yet to come' on cuts.

Authorities risk going bust unless steps are taken to shore up budgets, ministers told.

England’s mainly Conservative-run county councils have warned ministers that the “worst is yet come” over cuts to services and that several authorities risk going bust unless steps are taken to shore up budgets.

Only an emergency injection of funds next year to counter a growing financial “black hole” would head off severe cuts to services and potential unrest among MPs, the County Councils Network said.

It said councils faced having to make “truly unpalatable” cuts to key services such as social care, refuse disposal, libraries, Sure Start centres and roads maintenance while putting up council tax bills and introducing new charges.

There is growing concern about the financial resilience of county councils, which are struggling to meet rising demand for high-cost, high-volume services such as adult and children’s social care.

This year the Tory-run Northamptonshire county council effectively went bankrupt after failing to balance its budget, and the National Audit Office said one in 10 councils with social care responsibilities could follow suit.

A survey carried out by the County Councils Network, which represents 36 councils delivering services to 27 million people, found that a third would struggle to balance their budgets for 2019-20 without extra funding, rising to two-thirds by 2020-21.

A budget analysis estimates that county councils face a £3.2bn gap between income and costs over the next two years, caused in part by projected extra demand for social care services and in part by government cuts.

Paul Carter, the County Councils Network chairman and Tory leader of Kent county council, said: “We will work hard to deliver the savings required this year, but the scope for making deliverable savings has dramatically reduced and decisions for next year will be truly unpalatable if we are to fulfil our statutory duties. Without additional resource, the worst is yet to come.”

Nick Rushton, the leader of Leicestershire county council, said savings of £200m locally since 2010 had cut services to the bone. “Without extra money the consequences could be dire,” he said.

The recent announcement of £20bn of extra funding for the NHS has left local authorities frustrated at the government’s lack of urgency in addressing the simmering financial crisis in town halls and the growing crisis in adult social care and child protection services.

The government has announced that the social care funding green paper, which was expected before the summer recess, will not appear until the autumn.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said: “We are providing £90.7bn for councils to spend over the next two years and they should use that to meet the needs of their residents.

“We are also giving councils the power to retain the growth in business rates income and are working with local government to develop a funding system for the future based on the needs of different areas.”

Had to smile ?

Interlocks with several others ... par for the course in the NEWS section.

Posted on one only yesterday ... a collective £ 35 BILLION shortfall in the LAs's pension funds ... just sitting there waiting for US , as taxpasyers , to take over in the event of bankruptcy.

The meltdown continues ....


Summary from the first post on this thread ... 7 months ago :


LAs running out of money.
Support services continuing to be cut.
What support services that remain out of reach as most carers cannot afford them.
Shortgage of affordable housing in all sectors.
Rents unaffordable in most areas without HB.
Benefit tenants facing not being able to renew BTL tenancies.
UC rollout sucking carers in through their carees.
Below inflation increases in some benefits.
Pressure on businesses to raise prices as profits decline.
Council tax rises sucking more monies from lower income earners.
Council tax arrears at record levels.
Food bank usuage increasing , starting to increase at a higher rate as UC arrives.
Illnesses / medical conditions not seen since Victorian times.
Growth down , and contining to decline.
Thousands of care home residents " At risk " as privately run homes close / change hands.

Just a few ... and it's now only a question of WHEN.
No doubt why most of the dog poop bins have mysteriously vanished in my neighbouring borough. No money left to pay for them to be emptied.
Ahead of the forthcoming LA get together , more warnings :

https://www.theguardian.com/society/201 ... -peer-says

Council cuts are putting the vulnerable at risk, Tory peer says.

LGA chief says austerity could damage local authorities ‘beyond recognition.’

Local authorities have reached the point where relentless financial cutbacks are putting the wellbeing of vulnerable adults and children at risk, the Conservative leader of the Local Government Association (LGA) has warned.

The Tory peer Lord Porter said that after eight years of austerity during which £16bn has been stripped from municipal budgets in England, councils risked being “damaged beyond recognition” and communities depleted of vital services.

An £8bn black hole in council budgets would open up by 2023 unless ministers stepped in to close the gap between spiralling demand for adult and children’s social care services and shrinking town hall incomes, he said.

( No mention of the £ 35 BILLION deficit in the LA pension funds .... ???? )

“We’ve reached a point where councils will no longer be able to support our residents as they expect, including our most vulnerable,” Porter added.

As well as problems coping with demand for services for elderly and disabled adults, the LGA says councils are struggling with an explosion in the number of children in care, and a rising bill for 80,000 homeless families placed in temporary housing.

An LGA briefing on the prospects for local government states: “The failure to properly fund these services puts the wellbeing of some of the most vulnerable residents at risk, and this cannot go on.”

Porter’s intervention, ahead of the LGA annual conference, which opens in Birmingham on Tuesday, reflects councils’ increasing concern about the precariousness of local authority finances, and frustration that ministers are ignoring the escalating crisis in social care.

While the NHS last month received a five-year £20bn cash injection, the government’s plans to overhaul the funding of adult social care services, originally due in a green paper before the summer, were delayed until the autumn. Council bosses have warned that in many areas these services are on the verge of collapse.

The fragility of many individual councils’ finances has increased speculation that more local authorities could follow Northamptonshire county council into bankruptcy. In May, Tory-controlled Somerset called for an overhaul of council funding after it was warned by auditors it could go bust.

Council leaders are also worried about the political consequences of having to sacrifice popular local services such as libraries, Sure Start centres, parks and leisure centres to divert funds into core services such as social care.

Porter said: “Councils now spend less on early intervention, support for the voluntary sector has been reduced, rural bus services have been scaled back, libraries have been closed and other services have also taken a hit. More and more councils are struggling to balance their books and others are considering whether they have the funding to even deliver their statutory requirements.

“If the government allows the funding gap facing councils and local services to reach almost £8bn by the middle of the next decade, then our councils and local services will be damaged beyond recognition.”

The LGA is calling for councils’ funding problems to be addressed through a government spending review expected in spring 2019, which is likely to set out public services funding plans over the four years to 2023.

A Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government spokesman said: “We recognise the pressures councils are facing, so we are working with local government to develop a funding system for the future. Over the next two years, we are providing councils with £90.7bn to help them meet the needs of their residents. On top of this, we are giving them the power to retain more of the income they get from business rates so they can use it to drive further growth in their area.”

Labour’s Andrew Gwynne, the shadow communities and local government secretary, said: “This new analysis is a damning verdict on eight years of Tory austerity. Our public services are straining at the seams, whilst the government continues to cut funding.”

When one looks around , ANY sector NOT in crisis / meltdown ???

NHS / social care / public transport / railways / LAs / high streets / housing etc.etc.

One could throw some £ 200 odd BILLION at the whole lot , and still see no real difference !!!
How the local bank manager must love having this lot as customers ?

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/p ... 61461.html

Tory-led Northamptonshire county council imposes emergency spending controls for second time in six months.

'The government has allowed a Tory council to declare itself bankrupt twice in six months.'

A Conservative-led council has taken the unprecedented action of imposing emergency spending controls for the second time in six months after projecting a budget shortfall of up to £70m.

Despite being the first council in nearly two decades to issue a section 114 notice – immediately banning new expenditure – in February, Northamptonshire county council issued its second notice on Tuesday.

As a result of the extraordinary action earlier this year, two government-appointed commissioners were sent to oversee the finances of the council and produce a balanced budget.

But in a letter to councillors, the director of finance at Northamptonshire county council Mark McLaughlin said the situation was of an “extremely serious nature” and projected a significant budget shortfall in the current financial year of £60m-70m.

After meeting the government commissioners, the council chief decided to issue a second section 114 notice which means no new expenditure is permitted.

The only exception is for the safeguarding of vulnerable people and statutory services.

“The financial challenge facing Northamptonshire county council remains critical and the spending controls we have in place are vital to ensure we are focusing our limited funding on only the most essential services,” said the council's leader Matthew Golby.

He added: “At a meeting next month, we as a council will discuss a set of priorities built around delivering statutory services for the most vulnerable in our communities, and this means there will be difficult decisions that have to be made.

“We remain committed to doing everything we can to identify the savings required to reach a more stable financial position while ensuring those in our communities at risk of harm are protected.”

Andrew Gwynne, the shadow communities and local government secretary, seized on the announcement, claiming: “The government has allowed a Tory council to declare itself bankrupt twice in six months.”

He continued: “Northamptonshire is a perfect storm of local mismanagement and the crushing pressures of austerity. Commissioners will have no option but to slash and burn local services but it’s the people of Northamptonshire that will be forced to pay the price for this neglect.

“The Conservatives’ extreme ideology is pushing local government to the brink. The next Labour government will fund councils fairly and deal with our country’s social care crisis.”

A MHCLG spokesperson added: “It is essential residents are able to have faith in their council, particularly in the responsible use of taxpayers’ money.

“The financial challenges facing the council are clearly serious and reinforce how important it was that we took swift action to appoint commissioners.

“These commissioners will continue to work closely with the council as it takes the necessary steps to rebalance its finances.”

An extraordinary full council meeting will now convene next week to discuss the financial crisis affecting the local authority.

On the last figures available , the current deficit in the combined LA pension funds was near to £ 35 BILLION.

This lot's share of that ... factored in ?

Whose next ?
Ground zero ... Northamptonshire ... LA in flames , not much more to burn ?

https://www.theguardian.com/society/201 ... e-children

Fears cash-strapped council may cut services for vulnerable children.

Northamptonshire county council scrambles to save £70m amid warnings even core services are at risk.
The funding crisis facing local authorities has deepened after a Tory-run council warned services for vulnerable children and adults can no longer be protected as it prepared drastic measures to survive ongoing financial difficulties described as “without parallel in modern times”.

Northamptonshire county council – already technically insolvent – has called an extraordinary meeting for Wednesday to seek support for cutbacks which will reduce statutory services to the bare legal minimum and see non-core services shrunk or closed.

Hundreds of jobs are likely to be at risk as the council scrambles to find up to £70m of savings over the next few months to balance its books. The council has already drained its reserves, and has warned that further savings will be difficult.

Northamptonshire’s Tory leader, councillor Matthew Golby, has warned that in future services will be restricted to a “core offer”. He describes this as “the best service offer we are likely to be able to afford. It aims to fulfil our [legal] duties and offers support to those most in need only.”

In a discussion paper published ahead of the meeting, Golby says that although the council will strive to deliver its core services the council will need to encourage big society-style “behaviour change” in local communities “to create resilience in places where the council can no longer step in”.

Prof Tony Travers of the London School of Economics, an expert in local government, said the scale and nature of Northamptonshire’s crisis was unprecedented: “This is as near as possible to being without parallel in modern times.”

He said the danger for Northamptonshire was that in order to make the scale of cuts necessary to meet its legal obligations to balance its budget it would simultaneously breach its legal obligations to provide statutory levels of core services, such as those for children at risk and for elderly and disabled adults.

The council is already facing a legal challenge over its plans to close or sell-off 21 of the county’s 36 libraries on the basis that in doing so it is in breach of its statutory obligations. More legal challenges can be expected as it moves more services to “bare minimum” levels.

The plight of Northamptonshire will heighten pressure on the government to ease the impact of austerity on local authorities, who have had £16bn of central funding cut since 2010. Other councils are believed to be at risk of becoming similarly insolvent as they struggle with increasing demand for services and shrinking budgets.

The National Audit Office has warned that up to 15 English councils could go bust in the next few years as costs race ahead of resources, especially in children’s services, which have experienced a surge in at-risk youngsters being taken into care, and in services for vulnerable older adults.

The Tory head of the Local Government Association, Lord Porter, recently warned that cuts meant “councils will no longer be able to support our residents as they expect, including our most vulnerable”. Local services such as libraries, Sure Start centres, parks and bus services have been lost as town halls retrench.

Tory-run Somerset county council warned in May that it is at risk of following Northamptonshire into bankruptcy after large overspends on child protection services put its financial stability at risk.

Last week Northamptonshire council issued an unprecedented second section 114 notice setting out the scale of the continuing crisis. Its finance director, Mark McLoughlin, issued the first notice in February – an effective statement of insolvency – after warning it could not balance its books. It has a net budget of £441m.

In a terse and scathing four-page letter to councillors, McLoughlin warned that years of mismanagement had left the council financially compromised and in serious danger of failing to meet its obligations both to balance its budget this year and to set a legal budget for 2019-20, when a further £54m of savings are due.

He said councillors could not avoid tough decisions to balance the books, noting that these “will have to go beyond cuts to staff pay and staff numbers to include all services, including those to, and in respect of, vulnerable children, young people and adults”.

McLoughlin criticised a series of “inappropriate” decisions made by the council leadership over the past four years to balance the books, including the abuse of reserves and capital receipts, accounting ruses and “knowingly adopting unachievable savings”.

He said the council leaders had assumed they could put off difficult cuts decision because they believed the government would change the national funding formula for councils to benefit counties like Northamptonshire. He warned that it was clear that “no immediate remedy” was available to the council.

This week it emerged that the council’s former chief executive had been told of impending financial crisis by its then director of finance back in 2015. The warnings about the “corrosion of our financial management arrangements” were effectively ignored.

Labour county councillor Danielle Stone described Northamptonshire’s plight as “unbelievable” and the result of “years of mismanagement on a massive scale”. She said she expected swingeing staff cuts and a fire-sale of council buildings to try and meet the shortfall.

Northamptonshire in recent years aspired to be a poster-child for a distinctively Conservative approach to local government, priding itself on having one of the lowest levels of council tax, then freezing council tax and adopting a radical plan to outsource services, which sunk without trace.

However, the government was forced to send in commissioners to Northamptonshire in May to oversee the management of the council. This followed a devastating inspector’s report in March, which identified widespread management failures and lax financial controls at the council.

Although the inspector, Max Caller, blamed the council’s position on mismanagement rather than underfunding, the continuing crisis in Northamptonshire – all of whose seven MPs are Tory – will set alarm bells ringing in Whitehall, and drive up pressure on ministers to intervene.

One almost down , more in the queue to follow ?

£ 35 BILLION deficit in the LAs pensions funds across the UK.

Place your bets ... now !
Ground zero ... Corby , Northamptonshire ... a community fearing the worst :

https://www.theguardian.com/society/201 ... udget-cuts

In Corby, life without local services is set to become a grim reality.

As Northamptonshire council weighs up drastic budget cuts, residents are fearing the worst

When Martin McEvoy was 12, his father took him to the Royal Opera House in London for the day, and for the first time he glimpsed a world outside the Bradford of his upbringing.

“I saw something extraordinary then, and it changed my life,” the 67-year-old retired opera singer recalled on Wednesday afternoon in Corby, Northamptonshire. “One of the things most important to me is money going into sports and the arts so we feed young people’s souls.”

McEvoy now lives in Gretton, a small village six miles outside Corby. He calls it a “typical little English village” that has been affected by cuts to local services, including those he fears will exclude children and young people from the inspiration he was privy to in his youth.

More than 2,000 people have signed a petition against rural bus cuts affecting villages like Gretton, leaving them without access to basics like getting to a GP or a shop. And the cuts, part of a series of broader ones to public services in the county, are only expected to get worse.

The county council here is bust. Scrambling to save £70m over the next few months, and with no reserves to draw upon, it has been backed into a corner. The only option is to reduce statutory services to the bare legal minimum and shrink or close non-core services, striking worry into the hearts of residents that the most vulnerable people will no longer be protected.

Lucy Buffham, a 20-year-old resident of Gretton, said cuts to public transport had significantly affected her and her family’s life.

“We don’t have a shop or a post office in the village. My little sister is going to college in September and she has no way of getting there. She might have to pay for a taxi every morning. My nan has no way of getting to the bank so she can’t pay her bills, and we can’t always rely on my dad because he’s got a full-time job during the week,” she said.

“I have a job at the weekends as a cleaner in a private school. I’m looking for a weekday job, but without the bus I can’t get anywhere to hand in my CV or do anything. It’s terrible. I don’t have much of a social life, either. I only get out when my dad’s at home or my boyfriend’s not at work.”

Buffham said elderly people like her grandmother now spent their days at home without any recourse to travel.

“My nan is furious, she’s going absolutely mental without the bus. She’s stuck at home, the only day she gets out is when we go shopping on a Sunday. I always used to go to the town with her, helping her out with the shopping, going to the bank, paying bills, but not any more.

In a meeting on Wednesday, Northamptonshire county council was due to draw up a hierarchy of priorities based on people most in need, but it remains unclear what the skeletal services will look like.

“It might not seem like much, but it’s life and death to people,” McEvoy said. “It’s appalling. It’s obviously down to central government not funding local councils, but Northamptonshire county council has been astonishing, too. I don’t know how they’ve actually got to that position. They’ve just looked after themselves.

“I’d rather pay more council tax to make sure we have a decent society. There used to be a night shelter run by volunteers. That’s gone. When it comes to the winter there will not be another one and there will be people on the streets. They want to draw up a priority of public services, but where do you start? Shelters? Children’s services?”

Last year, Corby was named the personal loans capital of Britain, with borrowers in the area making more inquiries than in any other place in the UK. According to an analysis by MoneySuperMarket, there were 75.5 inquiries per 1,000 residents in Corby – 47% higher than the UK average.

With many jobs being low-paying and low-skilled roles – average incomes in the east and West Midlands are now 6% and 9% below the national average, respectively – households continue to face financial strains, which means they rely on public services more than ever.

The council is already facing a legal challenge over its plans to close or sell off 21 of the county’s 36 libraries, and more legal challenges can be expected.

Margaret Telfer, who was visiting Corby library with her grandchildren on Wednesday, said she was unsure about what the news would mean for her area. “It worries me because where has all the money gone? If you ran your house like the council ran theirs,” she said, trailing off into thought.

“I suppose you’re always wary but, touch wood, our library stays open. I use it a lot in the holidays with my grandchildren. I think every child should have access to a library because it’s important that they learn to read and express themselves. There’s lots of activities here in the holidays.

“It’s difficult when you have one pot of money. Where do you put it? Do you put it into young children, the 18- to 20-year-olds who don’t have jobs or the elderly? And whichever way it goes, you just have to accept it.”

Beth Miller, the Labour candidate for Corby and East Northants, said what was happening in Corby and nearby areas was a sign that the “Tory ideological experiment has failed”.

This council was the poster boy for the Tories in local government and followed the Eric Pickles school of thought to a tee,” she said. “They outsourced every service they could and froze council tax for years. They employed consultants at every opportunity and then gave huge payouts for poor performance. They ignored warnings from the opposition and their own officers for years.

“People in our villages are left without any public transport, leaving them isolated without access to the very basics like getting to a GP or shop. Organisations that support the elderly or provide a lifeline to those fleeing violence or with mental health needs face uncertainty.”

According to Robin Burgess, director of the Northampton Hope Centre and one of the coordinators of VIN, a coalition of voluntary sector organisations in the county, the situation is “simply terrifying”.

“We’re seeing a level of cuts being enacted in Northamptonshire which has never happened anywhere in the UK,” Burgess said. “The results will be catastrophic for the voluntary sector, the individuals we work with and for communities.”

Burgess said he worked with people in poverty, those who are homeless, who have no income, who have complex problems to do with addiction, abuse and mental health. “When everything else is cut, people come to see us. We are going to have to pick up the pieces when there are no services.

“We already see 120 to 150 people a day come in to the Hope Centre. People have been failed by the services, those who no longer have social workers or day centres to go to, left in a void with no help or support. The reality is, once you get this low, the chances are you’ll get worse.”

The first of many manors under REAL threat from the meltdown amongst the LAs.

The Government is somewhat insulated , it is now based in Northamptonshire.

As for the most vulnerable on that manor .... ?

Family carers ... what would a Carers Assessment look like tomorrow ... with no monies ... even to cut the grass ?
Ground zero .... Northamptonshire ... and the price for failing falls on ... guess who ?

https://www.theguardian.com/society/201 ... l-services

Northamptonshire council plans cuts to all services and workforce.

Core services including child social care will not escape insolvent council’s cuts.

Northamptonshire county council has published proposals that could lead to drastic loss of jobs and cuts to all its services over the next few months as it struggles to remedy what it admits is its “dire financial situation”.

Core services such as children’s and adult social care will not escape the cuts. Any service that the council considers to fall outside the scope of what it is legally required to deliver faces the prospect of being eliminated altogether.

The Tory-run council, which is technically insolvent, said on Tuesday it would have to adopt the legal-minimum level of service for residents, called a “core offer”, to give it any chance of closing a £70m budget deficit by April.

The proposed cuts are outlined in a paper prepared for a special meeting of the full council next week. The document says that if “radical action” is not taken to reduce spending, the shortfall could spiral to £180m within three years.

The council leader, Matt Golby, said: “Unfortunately there are going to be some very difficult decisions ahead for Northamptonshire as we work hard to bring our spending under control while doing our very best to protect services for the most vulnerable in our communities.

“This action plan outlines the approach we are going to take, which includes rigorous controls on spending, recruitment and contracts. These decisions will be made based on the core spending priorities discussed by full council yesterday [Wednesday].

“These are incredibly challenging times for the council but I am committed to ensuring we deliver those core services within the money we have available.”

The proposal paper says there will be a redundancy programme for the council’s 3,400 staff but gives no indication of how many jobs are expected to be lost.

The council said it was pausing plans to close or sell off 21 of its 36 libraries, saying “further consideration of the issues” was needed as part of its overall cuts programme. The closures are subject to a judicial review challenge from residents.

Although the council has vowed to protect services for vulnerable young people, the paper says children’s services will be “examined for rationalisation”. In terms of adult social care, there will be cuts to services for people with learning difficulties. Users of care services can expect an increase in charges and fees.

The children’s charity NSPCC said the proposed cuts to children’s services were a significant concern. Local charities have already said the cuts will put the safety of vulnerable children at risk.

Chris Cloke, the NSPCC’s head of safeguarding in communities, said: “The protection and safeguarding of children in Northamptonshire must always be an absolute priority. Shortcuts cannot be taken in safeguarding and there is an urgent need for a plan detailing how the council are going to prioritise vulnerable children.”

Radical cuts will also fall on road maintenance budgets, home-to-school transport, refuse services, museums and libraries. Services the council says it can no longer afford to run will be transferred to local parish councils, district councils or neighbourhood charities, the paper says.

The document was published hours after an extraordinary meeting of the council on Wednesday evening to discuss the precarious financial situation, which is regarded by experts as unparalleled in modern times.

As angry members of the public protested outside the council chamber, opposition councillors blamed the crisis on government austerity cuts and years of mismanagement. They said the cuts would put vulnerable residents in danger and lead to legal challenges.

The National Audit Office has said up to 15 English councils could go bust in the next few years as costs race ahead of resources, especially in children’s services, which have experienced a surge in the number of at-risk young people being taken into care, and in services for vulnerable older adults.

The National Audit Office has said up to 15 English councils could go bust in the next few years as costs race ahead of resources,

Place your bets ... now.

One quarter odds for a place.

Still £ 35 BILLION to be added in ... combined pension fund deficits.

2008 ... banking ... followed by austerity ... everyone paying , the poor paying more in percentage terms.

2018 ... LAs ... same again ???
.... and a second !

East Sussex County Council cuts services to '" Legal minimum. "

More to follow tomorrow morning.
Ground zero ... East Sussex ... the second LA to declare itself virtually bankrupt :

https://www.theguardian.com/society/201 ... s-services

East Sussex council set to cut services to bare legal minimum.

Tory-run authority reveals plan to avoid following Northamptonshire into bankruptcy.

Fresh evidence of the funding crisis facing local government has emerged after a second Tory-run council said it was preparing to cut back services to the bare legal minimum to cope with a cash shortfall that could leave it bankrupt within three years.

East Sussex county council said growing financial pressures and rising demand for social care were forcing it to restrict services to the most vulnerable residents only. Under this “core offer”, many of its services will be severely cut or shut down completely.

It said families and neighbourhood voluntary groups would have to take increasing responsibility for supporting those older people who would no longer qualify for social care support from the council under the new arrangements.

East Sussex’s outline of its strategic approach, revealed in a council paper last month, appears to have been adopted wholesale by Tory-run Northamptonshire county council, which this week adopted an emergency cuts plan to reduce services to skeleton levels as it attempts to close a £70m black hole in its budget during the next few months.

Northamptonshire’s financial collapse has been portrayed by ministers as being down to chronic mismanagement rather than lack of government funding. However, East Sussex is regarded as a stable and well-run council, giving authority and credibility to its shock warnings of the consequences of underfunding.

East Sussex said that without more government funding, stripping services back to a core offer would be the best it could afford to deliver, although it added that without a sea change in local authority finances even this most basic model of municipal service might be unaffordable by 2021.

The government insists that the funding arrangements for local government strike a balance between relieving the pressure on councils and keeping council tax bills down. A spokesperson for the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government said: “We are providing local authorities with £90.7bn over the next two years to meet the needs of their residents. We are also giving them the power to retain the growth in business rates income and are working with local government to develop a funding system for the future based on the needs of different areas.”

It is understood a number of other English county councils are drawing up core offer budget scenarios as they prepare for an increasingly tight financial future. Councils’ collective funding shortfall will reach nearly £6bn by next year. “The core offer is going to be increasingly the norm,” one local government insider said.

East Sussex said it was reluctant to comment on its core offer strategy, but confirmed it would be further developed over the next few weeks. Its chief executive, Becky Shaw, has insisted the core offer “paints an honest picture of the minimum that we realistically need to provide in the future”.

A cabinet paper written by Shaw said that having made £129m of savings since 2010 and facing a budget deficit of up to £46m within three years, the council would have to “concentrate services on those in most urgent need and will not be able to maintain a comprehensive offer of universal services to all residents”.

Although it regarded extra funding as essential to the council’s survival, the paper was gloomy about the prospects of a swift government intervention to ease councils’ financial crisis, saying that Brexit and the announcement of extra funding for the NHS had limited ministers’ scope to address wider social issues.

Although the government has promised a review of how council funding is shared out and a green paper on social care funding for older people, the paper said any changes would not be in place until 2021 “which leaves us with difficult decisions to make about the services we provide with our remaining resources”.

It said the county’s rapidly ageing population – a third of residents will be over 65 by 2031– meant it could not maintain current levels of care. “Our community will therefore need to take more responsibility for looking after themselves and each other to keep everyone safe and independent as long as possible.”

The paper said some statutory services, such as home-to-school transport for schoolchildren, while crucial in a largely rural area, were prohibitively expensive and financially unsustainable in the currently climate, and it would press ministers to lift some of the duties it currently placed on councils.

“For example, the £8m we are obliged to spend on concessionary fares for older people would provide care packages to allow 700 of the most vulnerable people in this group to continue live independently,” the paper stated.

It said rising levels of poverty in the county had resulted in an increase in child neglect cases. Although the council had deployed “early help” services to successfully support families and prevent the surge in child protection cases seen elsewhere in the country, these services were now at risk.

East Sussex’s core offer proposals, which were published and discussed at a meeting of senior councillors last month, appear to have been heavily plagiarised by Northamptonshire as it searches for a solution to its dire financial problems.

Whole passages of the East Sussex paper appear to have been cut and pasted into a discussion paper by the Northamptonshire county council leader, Matthew Golby, which was presented to an extraordinary meeting of the council held to discuss its dire finances on Wednesday evening.

There are minor differences of emphasis and tone in the Golby paper, which may reflect the greater urgency and scale of the crisis facing Northamptonshire. For example, while both versions promised to engage with local people, Northants added the rider that it would do so only “where required to by legislation”.

Similarly, while East Sussex promised that its core offer would “give the best possible customer service”, Northamptonshire, which is technically insolvent and faces having to make unprecedented levels of cuts, adapts this to the more downbeat “a reasonable level of customer service, within our means”.

A Northamptonshire spokesperson said: “Councils work together, through the Local Government Association, to share experience and best practice, to ensure we are making the best use of public funding and not duplicating effort. Northamptonshire has followed a path laid by others and East Sussex has done this particularly well.”

Meanwhile, Heather Smith, the former leader of Northamptonshire who stepped down in March after a critical inspector’s report, hit out at the current administration, calling them “slaves” to the county’s seven Conservative MPs, who include the leader of the house, Andrea Leadsom.

Smith, who resigned the Tory party whip on Friday, told Local Government Chronicle she had been made a scapegoat: “All I can say is what’s happening in Northamptonshire will come home to roost when there’s a general election and number of those MPs, who’ve done nothing to support Northamptonshire, will lose their jobs.

Simon Edwards, the director of the County Councils Network, said the core offer was the “stark reality” of cuts. He said: “Councils have a duty to be honest with residents and plan ahead, with many having no choice but to consider reducing services to the bare minimum as part of prudent financial strategies to protect vulnerable residents while fulfilling their legal obligation to deliver a balanced budget. The only way to avoid this is by government delivering a sustainable and fairer funding settlement for councils as part of next year’s spending review.”

Bottom line ?

Rise in Council Tax plus cuts in social care ... just to stay afloat !

Throw in the deluge of additional caring no thanks to the NHS chucking out patients ahead of schedule ... UNSAFE HOSPITAL DISCHARGES thread ... and where does that leave many of us ?

" Family carers ? They'll cope. They always have done despite what we throw at them ! "
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