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LAs : Financial Meltdown - Nationwide / Support Services CUTS : Council Tax Rises / Arrears : Pressure On Budgets - Page 9 - 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
Family carers receiving less help from councils, report shows.

Family carers are propping up the NHS but are being let down.

Family carers who look after elderly relatives and sick children are receiving less help from councils even though the number of such carers is rising, NHS figures reveal.

Last year, The Social Market Foundation calculated that there are 7.6 million people in the UK providing unpaid care for a relative.

That figure is one million more than in 2005 and is one aspect of the care crisis engulfing the UK.

However, the number of family carers supported or assessed by councils fell by more than 2 per cent in 2018.

Unpaid care

With Britain’s ageing population on the rise, so too is the number of people providing unpaid care to relatives set to increase.

Since 2014 local authorities have enhanced legal duties to assess the support needs of a wider range of carers. Those who meet the criteria should be given a support plan that can include direct financial payments and council-funded services.

But NHS Digital’s own analysis shows that in 2017-18, a total of 360,310 carers were supported or assessed by local authorities during that year. That is a 2.4 per cent fall from 2016-17.

The figures will be presented by Professor Sue Yeandle of Sheffield University at a Social Market Foundation/Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) event tomorrow discussing Britain’s growing army of unpaid family carers. Care Minister, Caroline Dinenage will also attend.


Professor Yeandle, one of Britain’s leading authorities on care, said: "Carers - the backbone of our care and support system - face mounting pressures; some are desperate. Good local services, regular breaks, and support to navigate the system can really help, but funding pressures on councils mean too few get the help they need.

"Urgent action is needed now to avoid further harm".

In 2016, Age UK estimated that there are 2.3 million carers over 65 who provide family care for a relative; 55 per cent of them had a long-standing illness or disability.

Surveys have shown that long-term caring among older carers aged 50 or over, is associated with reduced life satisfaction, a decline in the carer’s quality of life and higher levels of self-reported depression.
Some councils' school transport costs nearly as high as child social care.

Councils in England warn provision of home-to-school transport is under threat due to unsustainable costs.

Councils in England have warned that home-to-school transport, on which many children with special educational needs and disabilities (Send) depend, is under threat because of “unsustainable” costs and insufficient funding.

A report commissioned by the Local Government Association (LGA) and County Councils Network has revealed that councils are spending more on home-to-school transport than they spend on children’s centres, family support or youth services.

In some areas where the costs of transport are disproportionately high, often because of long distances in rural settings, the LGA says the school transport budget is almost as large as the entire children’s social care budget.

According to the LGA, 550,000 young people currently receive free home-to-school transport each year, of which 145,000 are pupils with Send whose transport accounts for 69% of total expenditure. New analysis shows that annual costs have increased by £66m in the last four years and could rise by a further £127m to reach £1.2bn by 2024.

One of the key drivers for the increase in costs is that children with Send are increasingly being sent further afield to specialist schools because of a shortage of suitable places closer to home.

Campaigners have warned that cash-strapped councils are already making “ill-considered” cuts to home-to-school transport, prompting safeguarding concerns. In some cases, they say, disabled children with significant health needs are having to wait at pick-up points in freezing weather or are being asked to travel alone, when they really need support.

Gillian Doherty, the founder of the parents’ campaign network Send Action, said some are being asked to travel for unacceptable amounts of time as transport routes are changed to save money. Others have lost their transport entirely despite still being of compulsory school age, meaning their parents have had to give up work to transport them.

The LGA report found that councils had already cut discretionary transport spending by 27%, reducing the number of children receiving free home-to-school transport by more than 10,000 in five years. “Despite these efforts, many continue to have to tighten eligibility even further or strip back discretionary support altogether,” the LGA warns.

There has been a 27% increase in pupils being placed in special schools since 2014 as mainstream schools – faced with funding and accountability pressures, plus curriculum changes – feel less able to offer places to children with Send.

Judith Blake, chair of the LGA’s children and young people board, said: “Free school transport is a lifeline for many pupils and their families but it must be adequately funded if councils are to meet their legal duties to all children and young people.

“While a special school may be the right setting for a particular child, it is also vital that mainstream schools are incentivised and rewarded for offering a high quality and suitable education for children with special needs.”

Doherty said: “We agree that ideally children with Send should be able to attend schools within their community. However, for this to happen, councils and the government must invest in the specialist provision that children need to thrive in local schools.”

The government recently announced a review of Send provision and has pledged additional funding.

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “We want to make sure that children are able to access the free home to school transport they are entitled to, which is why we recently consulted on a revised version of the statutory home to school transport guidance. We will consider the recommendations outlined in this report alongside our response.”
Poor urban councils bear majority of Tory funding cuts, study shows.

Research finds some metropolitan authorities have £100 million a year less to spend.

Drastic cuts to local government funding have seen the UK’s most deprived metropolitan areas “shoulder the burden of austerity” while some more prosperous counties have flourished, according to new research.

Analysis by the TUC and public service union Unison of central government funding for local councils in England since 2010 highlights a yawning chasm between urban and rural areas. It shows that , overall, councils in England are spending £7.8bn a year less on key services than they did in 2010, which equates to a cut of £150m a week.

The analysis reveals that the 20 councils with the biggest funding gaps are overwhelmingly metropolitan boroughs in London and the north of England. Of these 18 are controlled by Labour; only one is Conservative-run.

In contrast, the 20 councils with the smallest funding cuts are overwhelmingly all Conservative-controlled county councils. Of these, 16 are controlled by the Conservatives and just two are Labour-run.

The analysis – using methodology employed by both the Institute for Fiscal Studies and the Centre for Cities – found that Labour-run Salford Council is spending 38% – or £99m a year – less on key local services than a decade ago. That works out to £479 a year less per resident.

Camden Council, also Labour-run, is spending 32% – £103m a year – less than in 2010. That works out as £620 a year less per resident.

In contrast, Conservative-run Surrey Council is spending 7% – £54m a year – more on key local services than in 2010, which works out at £11 a year more per resident.

Wiltshire Council, a Tory authority, is spending 8%, or £27m a year, more on key local services than in 2010, which works out at £16 a year more per resident.

The Local Government Association estimates that in the past eight years, councils in general have lost 60p out of every £1 the government used to provide prior to the funding cuts. This has left councils increasingly reliant on raising income through council tax, business rates and other charges and fees. Urban councils in more deprived areas have found this task more difficult than their rural counterparts.

“Poorer parts of England have suffered most from the Conservatives’ local government cuts,” said TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady. “By slashing central government funding, they have made deprived areas shoulder the burden of austerity. We need fair and sustainable funding for all of our communities. Key services have been cut to the bone.”

Unison general secretary Dave Prentis agreed: “Local services hold communities together, but nine years of austerity has put paid to that. We’ve seen libraries shut, care visits reduced, allotments and parks sold off, youth centres closed, subsidised bus services scrapped and public conveniences axed. The government’s funding squeeze has forced councils to charge residents more, reduce key services or cut them altogether. Now the cupboard is virtually bare and some local authorities can no longer provide the legal minimum.”

A spokesman for the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government said it could not comment as it is currently in election purdah.
Councils under huge pressure as number of children in care soars

There are now 78,150 children in care in England, a rise of 28% in a decade.

The number of children in care has gone up by 28% in the past decade with council leaders warning of unsustainable pressure being placed on support services for young people.

Official figures show there are now 78,150 children in care in England, up from 75,370 in 2018 and almost 20,000 more than in 2009 when 60,900 children were looked after.

The Local Government Association (LGA) warned the huge increase in demand, combined with funding shortages, is putting immense pressure on the ability of councils to support vulnerable young people who need help.

https://www.theguardian.com/society/202 ... rs-england
Law firm founded to save councils money posts £1.2 million loss.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-c ... e-51008221

A law company set up by three councils to save money has warned of "uncertainties" that could threaten its future after posting a £1.2m loss.

LGSS Law is owned by three councils and was founded to offer a "new model" for public sector legal services.

Critics called the fall in revenue and £1.2m loss in 2018-19 a concern while an independent councillor questioned the scrutiny of outsourced services.

LGSS Law said its finances had improved and it expected a profit this year.

The law company is owned by Central Bedfordshire, Northamptonshire county and Cambridgeshire county councils.

Last year the BBC revealed Northamptonshire had offered the firm a £1m overdraft. It has now emerged Cambridgeshire has offered an extra £499,000 credit line.
Eyes down for the annual " Rotten Borough " awards from ... The Eye :

Rotten Boroughs Awards 2019

From the Imelda Marcos Award for services to clothes shopping, to the coveted Pants on Fire gong, it’s been another bumper year for municipal mischief.

Did your local council scoop a glittering prize?


In February we reported on the case of “Disappearing Donald”, aka Cllr Donald Adey, who managed to claim £14,500 in allowances from Cambridgeshire county and Cambridge city councils, despite living some 400 miles away in Fife. Looks like a shoo-in for the award, we said.

Then in March up popped a serious rival: Tory Aberdeen city councillor Brett Hunt, who claimed his £16,742 annual allowance despite only making very occasional appearances in the council chamber on account of living thousands of miles away in Dubai. Adey eventually resigned in March and Hunt in July.

Joint honours!


North-east Lincolnshire council came up with a nice little earner – fining grieving families £200 a go for funerals which over-ran their time slot at Grimbsy crematorium – in one case by a mere 14 seconds.


Dundee council’s head of construction, Mark Ross, enjoyed a golfing holiday in Spain courtesy of local firm Edmundson Electrical, shortly after Edmundson was awarded a £8.3m contract, not put out to tender, to install smoke alarms in council properties.


Labour Croydon council sold 24 pieces of building land at “mates rates” to its own housing company, Brick by Brick. Four sites were sold for £10,000 – way below market value – and six were sold for just £1 each. The idea is that BxB profits from building homes which are sold at market rates, and ploughs those profits back into building homes for “social” rent. While BxB has built numerous expensive “executive” style homes and flats, the number of homes for social rent completed totals just three one-bed flats.


Shropshire county council spent £80,006 and 32p resurfacing a country lane leading to the home of senior Tory councillor Vince Hunt, even though it was not included on a list of roads needing repair kept by the local parish council.


Tory Cambridgeshire county council handed the tenancy of a farm it owns to its own deputy leader, Roger Hickford, at a reduced rent, then lent him £183,000 so he could extend it. The councillor is not a farmer himself, but wants to use the property to set up a doggy spa.


As we await the outcome of a consultation launched by the government on how a proposed £95,000 cap on public sector payoffs might be implemented, the gravy train for failure remains in full flow. In the 2018-19 financial year, Lib Dem Kingston borough council splashed out a splendid £2.4m on payoffs. £316,000 went to former chief exec Charlie Adan, who got the boot days after the May 2018 election at which the Lib Dems took control from the Tories, because she didn’t get on with new council leader Liz Green. Interim chief exec Roy Thompson, who replaced Adan, was sent on his way with £160,000 after less than six months when Kingston appointed current chief exec Ian Thomas, who trousered £185,000 on his departure from Lewisham council. King of the gravy train, as ever, was sacked West Sussex chief exec Nathan Elvery, who left with a £250,000 Christmas present, plus a £35,000 legal bill for council taxpayers.


The SNP Lord Provost of Glasgow, Eva Bolander, stepped down after it was revealed she had run up bills of £8,000 on clothes and beauty products in two years. Council taxpayers forked out for 23 pairs of shoes, six jackets, five coats, dresses, skirts and a £200 hat. Ms B also claimed more than £750 for having her hair done and £350 for new glasses.


Openness and transparency were in short supply as council bigwigs and their “communications” teams fell over themselves to put “reputation management” and “consistency of council messaging” ahead of straight talking with press and public. In a crowded field the top honour goes to Harrogate borough council in Yorkshire. An anonymous Twitter account, @HarrogateThings, trolled and abused council critics. Minutes after the Eye asked Harrogate council’s “communications” department about it, the account disappeared. Whoever composed the sweary, aggressive tweets remains a mystery, but shame on £90,000-a-year comms supremo Rachel Bowles for letting it happen.


To Leeds city council’s £182,085 chief executive, Tom Riordan, who trousered £28,424 for acting as returning officer for Leeds’s eight parliamentary seats on 12 December. That was on top of £147,921.66 fees he had already been paid in recent years for the general elections of 2015 and 2017, the Brexit referendum, police and crime commissioner elections and the European election.


To Ron Cant, former Carmarthenshire county council press officer, who penned a magnificently arslikhan tribute to Mark James, who had retired as the county’s chief executive. James was crowned Rotten Boroughs “Shit of the Year” in 2016 for his attempt to have local blogger Jacqui Thompson rendered homeless as he pursued her for libel damages and costs totalling more than £200,000 in a case he brought in which he was unlawfully indemnified by the council. More recently he championed a controversial scheme to bring a £200m “Life Science and Wellbeing Village” to Llanelli – a matter currently attracting the keen interest of Inspector Dai Knacker. Whatevs.

Writing in the Carmarthenshire Times, Cant hailed James as a “visionary man of steel… Over 17 years [he has] forged a stainless steel template studded with diamonds for this great county’s future… every corner [of which] has been sparkled by [his] Midas touch… visionary… compelling… compassion… empathy… golden blueprint…”


The vicar of the St Edward the Confessor church in Romford complained that the take from collection plates at Sunday services had declined after Havering council imposed parking charges in neighbouring streets.


Bristol city council piously announced its intention to ban privately-owned diesel vehicles from the city centre, shortly before spending millions on a new fleet of, er, diesel vans.


Kent county council pension fund’s request to withdraw some £250m from Neil Woodford’s Equity Income Fund (down from £310m invested in 2017) led first to the freezing and then winding-down of Woodford’s flagship fund and the trashing of Woodford’s reputation as a star fund manager. This is not the first time KCC has come a cropper while seeking good returns. During the Icelandic banking crisis of 2008 the council “lost” £50m and didn’t recover it until 2017.


Tories on Cotswold district council feigned “snouts in the trough” outrage when one of the first acts of the new Lib Dem regime which took control in May was to raise councillors’ allowances from £4,000 to £5,000 a year. What the Tories neglected to say was that the increase had been recommended by an independent panel in 2008 and approved by the then-ruling Tories – who put it on the agenda of the first post-election meeting for approval!


The voters of Tunbridge Wells, who in May inflicted humiliation on a smug Tory regime which had determined to press on with a £100m+ new civic centre “vanity project” against locals’ wishes. Thirteen Tories lost their seats, including pig-headed council leader David Jukes, and the scheme was later abandoned.


Harrogate borough council came under fire for spending £600,000 to host the world road cycling championships in September, which caused traffic chaos in the town. The event’s “fan zone” on the Stray – 200 acres of grassland surrounding the town centre – diverted business away from the centre and left the Stray looking like “a first world war battlefield”, according to critics.


Your Local council not mentioned ?

Oh well , better luck come the 2020 awards list !
Relevant as we are looking at an LAs income ... or lack of it ?

Empty business rates relief " Costs £1 billion. "

Some councils lose out on millions of pounds of potential business rates income through a tax relief on empty properties, BBC analysis shows.

A local authority mayor in northern England said the money "added up to a lot" and the system was unfair.

The Treasury said it would announce a review of business rates "in due course".

Experts say the current system pits local authorities - which want stable income - against businesses.

Andy Preston, independent Mayor of Middlesbrough, said: "There's a window where we lose money and that adds up to a lot, so we're doing everything we can to help make sure we can sustain businesses.

"We're trying to bring people into town to live here, for leisure, to work, but it's a big battle, and what's worse, an unfair battle.

"We need to get a much fairer system from central government."

What are business rates ?

Business rates are similar to council tax for business properties. They are paid by businesses, or landlords if a property is empty.

Councils currently keep around 50% of business rates in their area but are expected to keep 75% from 2021. The revised scheme will see local authorities "take on the risk of decline as well as the reward for any growth".

Rates do not have to be paid on empty businesses for three months, such as when shops close down or move.

Less coming in from business rates means either / or / a combination of ... less spending / more rises in Council Tax !!!
87 posts