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24.03.15

Social care to swallow 60% of council tax by 2020

By the end of the decade, 60% of council tax will be spent caring for the elderly, vulnerable adults and vulnerable children, the Local Government Association has warned.

New analysis published by the LGA breaks down how every £1 of council tax is allocated by councils. It shows that even with people paying similar levels of council tax, money available for non-care services is set to drastically fall in the next few years as a result of reduced government funding and rising demands for care.

For every £1 of council tax collected by councils in 2019-20, 60p will be spent on caring for the elderly, vulnerable adults, and vulnerable children. This is up from 41p in 2010-11.

By contrast, 1p in every £1 will be spent on street cleaning and flood defences, 5p in every £1 will be spent on road maintenance and street lighting and just under 5p in every £1 will be left to fund all libraries, leisure centres, parks, museums and arts.

The LGA say that the breakdown highlights the strain being placed on popular services and demonstrates the need for local government funding to be protected in the next parliament.

Chair of the LGA, Cllr David Sparks, said: "This analysis shows the pinch that families all over the country will feel from central government continuing to reduce funding for local services 

"It is likely that people will be paying similar levels of council tax over the next few years but most will see a lot less in return. People are rightly going to question why their streets and parks are less well kept, the local library is closing and bus services are being cut when they are still paying roughly the same council tax each month.

"The reality is that, within a few years, well over half of the council tax everyone pays will have to be spent on social care.

"With demand on these life and death services continuing to rise and funding from central government continuing to fall, councils will have little choice but to squeeze budgets for libraries, roads and street lighting.”

The LGA suggests that the average Band D council tax payer, with a £1,468 council tax bill, would contribute almost £800 per year to social care and just under £16 per year to street cleaning and flood defences, £70 per year to road maintenance and street lighting and £59 per year for libraries, leisure centres, parks, museums and arts.

Local government minister Kris Hopkins said: "From April our £5.3bn Better Care Fund will invest new money in joining up health and social care, so that people can live at home for longer with dignity and independence and get home from hospital more quickly when they do have to be admitted.

"In 2015-16 alone this is projected to prevent up to 160,000 A&E admissions, speed up over 100,000 delayed transfers of care and save £500m of taxpayers' money too.

"Despite the LGA's continued warnings and false claims the truth is that councils have continued to balance their budgets while public satisfaction with services has been maintained.

"There are further sensible savings that can still be made such as back office mergers, cracking down on fraud, using some of the £21bn of councils' reserves and increasing council tax collection rates before frontline services are hit."

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