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LAs : Financial Meltdown - Nationwide / Support Services CUTS : Council Tax Rises / Arrears : Pressure On Budgets - Page 4 - 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.
87 posts
Yep ... time for the LAs' own Oliver to make an appearance with his begging bowl ... after 3 days in the queue ?

When council leaders petition No 10 to end austerity, things are bad.

Labour councils have had enough. As another round of devastating cuts looms, the leader of Newcastle council has gone to the source.

With the budget barely more than a week away, the queue of desperate petitioners would stretch down Whitehall, far out of sight. If austerity is over, who’s first in line? In the battle of crises, whose need is greatest?

This morning an actual petition was handed into No 10 by one sector among those that have suffered the worst in the great state shrinkage of the last eight years – local government.

Nick Forbes, leader of Newcastle city council, handed in a plea signed by all Labour local government leaders to stop the next round of cuts – a further £1.3bn due to be lopped off in April. If that axe falls again, Theresa May’s “austerity is over” conference message will be exposed as pure deceit.

Though Tory county councils have made the headlines, with Northamptonshire bankruptcy crisis and others, such as Somerset and East Sussex, teetering on the brink of going bust, it has been Labour’s northern metropolitan areas that have taken the biggest hit. Right from the start, Liverpool was cut deepest, Dorset least.

Forbes says the Labour towns and cities had to tighten a tourniquet round their spending from year one, while the county councils drifted along and have only now hit a brick wall. “We’ve already been through the pain barrier. Now it’s hitting them, and they’re not prepared, after all these years of boasting that they froze their council tax rates,” he says.

Perhaps a mobile soup kitchen outside Nos. 10 & 11 to look after all the Olivers in the queue ?
Tory-run Northamptonshire county council bailed out by government.

Permission granted to spend £60m cash received from sale of HQ.

The government has in effect bailed out Tory-run Northamptonshire county council after giving it unprecedented permission to spend up to £60m of cash received from the sale of its HQ on funding day-to-day services.

The highly unusual move – accounting rules normally prevent councils using capital receipts in this way – means the crisis-hit authority is likely to escape falling into insolvency for the third time in less than a year.

Ministers gave the go-ahead for the bailout after commissioners sent in to run the council issued a stark warning that without a cash injection, Northamptonshire would be unable to meet its legal duties to run core services such as social care.

Opposition councillors called it a political move to save ministers from having to directly bail out the council. Labour group leader Mick Scrimshaw said: “It is clearly politics. The Conservative government did not want the political embarrassment and for that reason they have been allowed to use these capital receipts.”

Northamptonshire declared itself effectively bankrupt in February after it realised it could not balance its books. It declared insolvency again in July after a review revealed it had understated the extent of its financial problems. It must make good a £70m deficit by the end of March to avoid insolvency for a third time.

Although the council has already set in train a draconian cuts programme for the current financial year to try to overturn the £70m budget shortfall, the commissioners said this alone would not be enough to prevent insolvency.

In a report to the communities secretary, James Brokenshire, the commissioners Brian Roberts and Tony McArdle said the “extraordinary” scale of cuts to services needed in one year to fill the funding gap would breach councils’ legal obligations.

The report said: “Considered against the concomitant need to maintain the integrity of critical public service delivery, it is a challenge that is beyond being met in a single year. We are compelled to the view that the finding of an alternative mechanism for addressing this legacy will be unavoidable.”

The report notes that the council has been dysfunctional and that morale is poor among “long-suffering” staff. It also criticises its “lack of credible leadership and direction over many years”, though it notes there have been some improvements in culture and management over the past few months.

The council’s leader, Matt Golby, said: “I am delighted the commissioners have been successful in their request for a capital dispensation. This will enable us to use our own resources to tackle the £35m deficit from 2017-18 and replenish our reserves to put us on a sustainable financial position.” The council is hoping to save a further a £35m this year from its cuts programme.

Rob Whiteman, the chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy, said the move was effectively a bailout for Northamptonshire. Although it went against accepted accountancy rules and practice, it could be justified on the grounds that the council was being abolished.

Northamptonshire is to be replaced by two unitary authorities under plans approved by ministers earlier this year after the inspectors’ report concluded that the council’s management and financial problems were so deep-rooted it could not be easily turned around.

Enabling the council to convert some of the £60m it received from the fire sale of its new state-of-the-art HQ earlier this year – just months after it moved in – will allow it to clear an underlying £35m revenue deficit, and removes the need for ministers to pump money into the council directly.

Ironically, a highly critical inspectors’ report in March was scathing of the council’s readiness to compromise generally accepted accounting principles to present the its finances in a better light. Earlier this month a task force was sent into oversee its failing child protection services.

Brokenshire said: “Clearly, the situation in Northamptonshire is very serious. I am grateful to the commissioners for uncovering the council’s true financial position and the robust steps they have taken to improve its financial management and governance.”
Councils appeal for cash injection to avoid " Catastrophic collapse. "

Leaders demand that upcoming cut of £1.3bn is cancelled " At an absolute minimum. "

Council leaders from some of Britain’s biggest cities are demanding an emergency cash injection to stop a “catastrophic collapse” of authorities that have faced the biggest cuts to their support.

Bosses from Manchester, Newcastle and Birmingham are among almost 80 Labour council leaders to write to James Brokenshire, the communities secretary, demanding that a forthcoming cut in funding of £1.3bn is cancelled “at an absolute minimum”.

It comes as several councils warn they are facing bankruptcy and one, Northamptonshire council, is effectively bailed out by the government after hitting a financial crisis. English councils face a funding gap of £5.8bn by 2020, according to the Local Government Association.

The plea from Labour councils comes ahead of this week’s financial settlement for local government. In their letter, they warn that by 2020, councils will have lost 60p out of every £1 they were given by central government in 2010.

“As leaders of councils representing millions of citizens, we are writing to make clear that you must use the settlement to truly end austerity in local government and immediately provide the funding we need to avoid catastrophic collapse in key council services,” they write.

“The most deprived areas of the country have been hit much harder than the richest areas - nine of the 10 most deprived councils in the country have seen cuts of almost three times the national average. After eight years of austerity, many councils have reached breaking point and council budgets are perilously close to collapse.”

“At an absolute minimum, you must use the funding settlement to cancel the planned further cut of £1.3bn to next year’s Revenue Support Grant. To blindly press on with further cuts at a time when local government is on the brink of collapse would be hugely irresponsible.”

A Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government spokesperson said: “We’ll be confirming local government funding for the financial year 2019/20 soon.

“Already we’ve committed to providing councils with £90.7bn over the next two years to help them meet the needs of their residents.

“In the budget we announced more than £1bn in extra funding for local government to address pressures on their services.”
Council Tax set to rise by 3 per cent to balance Calderdale's books.

Being more commercially savvy, an efficiency drive and a 2.99 per cent Council Tax rise look set to help Calderdale Council to balance its books when it sets its budget for 2019-20.

If approved – councillors from all parties are invited to consider the proposals and will have to vote on them at Budget Council on Monday, February 25 – the budget will protect the borough’s most vulnerable people and the limit impact on front line services, said Leader of the Council, Coun Tim Swift.

One has to smile ?

the budget will protect the borough’s most vulnerable people

Those at the bottom of the income scale will need a find an extra 3% to pay to " Protected themselves ? "

" What should I cutback on ... food / heat / rent ... to pay for the 3% increase " .... ????

Mother-of-two who was hauled to court after council accused her of fly-tipping when bouquet of flowers with her name on was found among dumped rubbish is CLEARED by jury in just 20 minutes

Council claimed Lauren Pinhorne dumped bag containing flowers and diary.

The local authority spent 11 months and around £5,000 trying to prosecute her.

Her personal life was 'dragged through the court' as diary entries were read out.

Mother-of-two, 37, cleared by a jury after 20 minutes at Winchester Crown Court.

With court costs of £ 7,000+ awarded to Lauren , the council taxpayers of Test Valley County Council will be " Pleased "
to see their hard earned cash spent in this way ?
At least , one LA is now taking affirmative action :

Calderdale's empty house owners to be landed with full Council Tax bill.

Leaving a home empty for more than two years in Calderdale will cost you more following a decision to increase the Council Tax premium levelled on them from 50 per cent to 100 per cent from 2019-20 onwards.

Calderdale Council’s Cabinet agreed to the move when formally calculating its Tax Base for next year’s budget.

The move will bring in the council another £300,000 a year.

Cabinet member for Resources, Performance and Business Change, Coun Jane Scullion (Lab, Luddenden Foot) explained the council has to work out its Council Tax base every year.

The figure formally arrived at is the number of Band D properties in its area, and the figures also take in other Bands.

The Band D figure all councils work to shows that in Calderdale the income to it from a single £1 Council Tax on a Band D property would be £61,993.90 – the actual amount being higher depending on the rate councillors eventually agree to set with Budget Council set to be held on February 25.

The rate also allows bases for the areas which also have town and parish councils to be calculated.

It also has to take into account other factors including new homes, exempt dwellings, for example homes left empty by people in hospital, homes subject to reduced banding following appeals, properties moves to a lower band for specific reasons, such as a home adapted for a disabled person’s use, the number of single occupancy homes which are subject to a 25 per cent discount, the number of properties which are in receipt of Council Tax reduction and Council Tax which has not been collected.

Coun Scullion said there was some slightly good news in that 1,130 new properties in the borough would also bring in some extra income for the council,

Members agreed to prove the base and the increase in Council Tax on homes left empty.

The briefing paper prepared for them by council officers said the initial 50 per cent empty homes premium for those left empty for more than two years had been introduced to send a clear message to owners that it was not acceptable to keep properties empty.

As well as recommend the increase officers say that in future years the council will potentially be able to increase the premium again for properties empty for five years or more.
Basildon Council's £7,500 doormat " A waste of money "


A council's £7,500 spend on a new doormat for its office entrance has been branded "a waste of money".

Basildon Council bought the 8ft by 6ft mat for the staff entrance and said it was a health and safety measure.

However, independent councillor Kerry Smith said: "No-one wants a meeting about a doormat but you do want a meeting about £7,500 being wasted."

One resident added: "How they can justify spending £7,500 on a doormat is just beyond me."

A spokeswoman for Basildon Council said it was "committed to ensuring the safety of its employees and other users of the building".

The resident, who did not wish to be named, said: "I just think it's absolutely outrageous and somebody needs to look into it.

"When public funding is as low as it is and we've got increasing amounts of homeless people living on the streets, this just seems ludicrous."

100 times more on a doormat than the value of my own " Fixtures , fittings and furniture " ... and that's on a good day ... from Harold Steptoe.

Trouble is , whose the next LA to feature on " How We Spend Council Taxpayers' Monies " ... the winner being the most ludicrous ?
Choice of two threads ... the newer one or the MAIN LA thread ... posted on both !

( Newer thread : https://www.carersuk.org/forum/news-and ... 17#p398917 )

The infamous " Yorkshire Men " sketch performed by the Monty Python team springs to mind ... which manors have been hit hardest ... yep , it's grim up north ?

And ... surprise , surprise , funding social care through LAs ... oh dear , dare I mention the main GREEN PAPER thread as well ?

Interlocking ... the bane of this forum !


Council cuts have " Hit cities and north hardest. "

Cities and urban areas across Britain have been " Hit hardest " by cuts to local government funding, a report says.

Centre for Cities said built-up areas lost an average of £386 per head over the past eight years.

It said councils in the north of England were " Less able to raise money locally " than those in the south.

The government has promised councils a "real-terms increase" in spending power for 2019 to 2020.

While authorities that got into severe financial difficulty, such as Northamptonshire County Council, had " Grabbed the attention ", urban areas in the north of England had seen the biggest cuts to council spending over the past eight years, Centre for Cities said.

Jobs axed

The think-tank said Barnsley was the "hardest hit" area in Britain, with 40% cuts to its day-to-day spending in 2017-18 compared to 2009-10.

Sir Stephen Houghton, leader of Barnsley Council, said the authority had lost £107m due to funding cuts and had axed four out of 10 jobs.

He added the cuts had forced the council to make "unpopular decisions" such as increasing council tax.

Mayor of Doncaster, Ros Jones, said: "The significant funding pressures in relation to adults and children's social care needs to be addressed nationally, and not left to local authorities to address through council tax."

Urban areas in the north of England saw their spending cut by an average of 20%, compared to 9% for those in the south-west, east and south-east of England.


Centre for Cities said Liverpool saw the largest cuts per person, losing the equivalent of £816 for every resident, although it also included neighbouring Knowsley in its analysis.

The think-tank's analysis looked at "primary urban areas", which are largely built-up. It found Newcastle-upon-Tyne, North Tyneside, South Tyneside and Gateshead had seen spending fall nearly 27%.

Stoke-on-Trent, together with Newcastle-under-Lyme, had seen spending fall about 24%; while Glasgow's fall of 23% of spending included East Dunbartonshire, Renfrewshire and East Renfrewshire.

" Economically weaker "

Centre for Cities chief executive Andrew Carter said: "Councils have managed as best they can, but the continued singling-out of local government for cuts cannot continue. There is a very real risk that many of our largest councils will in the near future become little more than social care providers.

"The cities most affected are economically weaker and have been less able to absorb the loss of central government funding."

The County Councils Network said all local authorities, not just cities and urban areas, had been affected by funding cuts as well as rising demand for services such as adult social care.

Its director Simon Edwards said: "Counties have not benefitted from higher levels of business rate income, revenue from housing growth, and much higher per-person funding for public services."

The government said councils would share an "extra £1.3 billion" of funding from 2019 to 2020.

Grim ... and clearly shows the North / South divide ... with the South still catching up.

The South has lost a finger , the North an arm ?

The main thread has followed this.

Needless to add , yet another interlocking thread ... the real effect of rise in Council Tax ... so far , the only remedy available to
LAs to raise monies ... and the further devastation that is causing at the lower end of the income scale.

https://www.carersuk.org/forum/support- ... hilit=roof
Oh boy , when have we ALL seen this before ( 1926 and 1984 the best examples on the bigger stage ! ) ???

Inevitable ... Grass Roots v. The " Party " ... and preservation of the system at stake ???

Only one winner ... as always ... THE SYSTEM !!!

Labour councils and activists are at war. But it won’t stop austerity.

As left wing councils unwillingly enact Tory cuts, local activists oppose them. Local democracy has become a farce.

( Just part of the article ... Lambeth ... even in the sedate world of caring , a historical hotbed of unrest ... ( 2005 and the first wave of LA cuts ... Lambeth , only manor to make a real stand ! Did carers on neighbouring manors rally to the Cause by the coach load ? A couple did arrive ... by push bike ! ).

In the London borough of Lambeth, the council proposes the closure of five children’s centres, with the remaining 18 grouped in some complicated fashion that involves sharing staff and pared-down services. Parents have been staging regular protests, with organisational support from Unison.

The Green party has made an alternative suggestion to the council, which is seeking to balance its books: if it were to increase its financial reserves by less than currently proposed, it could keep these centres open for the next four years, while the borough holds its breath for a change of government.

It’s hard to overstate the importance of children’s centres: they’re not simply part of a tapestry of early years provision, that you can pay for or not pay for, pick and choose.

There is nothing else like them, where facilities, company, expertise and support are all located in the same place. “They’re important in the way libraries are, rich and poor all walking through the same door,” Kelly Rogers, a Unison organiser, has observed.

The Labour council, faced with opposition, is cleaving to its “blame Tory cuts” line, sending out self-congratulatory emails about its successful budgets that don’t even mention these closures, and only talk about the services they’ve managed to protect. In a dynamic that has been replicated all over the country, the Labour council has become the hand-wringing instrument of Conservative austerity. An implacable opposition has built up between local activists and purportedly leftwing local government officials.

Campaigners previously mobilised opposition to library closures – thousands of people on one demonstration, in Brixton – and the council closed the libraries anyway, then reopened them. While it was never said, the imputation was that it wanted to avoid a climbdown – and this between people who are all theoretically on the same side, sharing the same values. Although maybe that’s too broad a church: whose values, outside Conservative HQ, don’t include libraries?

Yet the alternative to enacting cuts is to oppose them, the history of which is vexed (professional-speak for a nightmare). The last time local spending was hit this hard was in the mid-1980s, when rate-capping amounted to swingeing budget reductions, and 26 Labour councils opposed it absolutely.

The result was a schism between those councils and the Labour leadership; a further breach within the Greater London Council between John McDonnell and Ken Livingstone; chaotic meetings, unworkable budgets, alienating, strongman showboating from every imaginable side. The language of that time is incredible: its imagery all corpses and suicides.

Ultimately the opposition failed, which one would imagine is the main reason Labour councillors today, many of whom remember it, cannot countenance direct disobedience. The red-on-red warfare, anti-austerity activists against councillors, is painfully understandable, but we make a mistake if we cast it as ideological, the new Old Labour left versus the old New Labour right.

It is really just a range of human responses to a critical dishonesty: you cannot make progressive choices amid radical funding cuts. The austerity agenda has turned local democracy into a farce, and its natural opponents into its helpmeets.

The optimistic bit is that parents will still demonstrate, still occupy town halls with their toddlers, because that deadening standstill just isn’t good enough when there’s something concrete to preserve. The social spirit cannot be snuffed out; it can only be ignored for so long, before formal politics has to meet it.
Just a chart ahead of Government funding of LAs being debated in the House.

One picture that really says it all ????

87 posts