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Children’s services could be next funding cut victim – ANEC

North east council leaders have warned that care services for vulnerable children could be the next victim of ‘savage’ local government funding cuts. 

The Association of North East Councils (ANEC) and the Special Interest Group of Municipal Authorities (SIGOMA) met with MPs yesterday to discuss the challenges facing councils in the north east and across the country. 

Cllr Simon Henig, Durham’s Labour leader and vice-chair of ANEC, said that the amount of government funding in areas such as children’s services has been cut significantly. 

“But local authorities have filled the gap, by raiding money from elsewhere,” said Cllr Henig. “The question that has to be asked is ‘how long can that go on’? And I suggest it won’t be able to go on very much longer.” 

The meeting in Westminster was timed to coincide with the consultation on the Local Government Finance Settlement for 2015-16, which the north east leaders claim will lead to a 17% reduction in grants to children’s services. 

North east authorities say their funding will be reduced by 9.7% in the 2015-16 financial year – not the government’s claim of an average 1.8% cut in funding – representing a fall of £240m. 

While a range of services will be affected, ANEC highlighted children’s social care as an example of a service directly affecting the lives of residents that could face further cuts. 

Also in attendance was Sir Steve Houghton, chair of SIGOMA, who said councils have done a “fantastic job” across the country but particularly in places like east London, the West Midlands and the north, where the cuts have been severest. 

He said that the authorities had been able to just keep “the ship afloat”. “But we can’t keep doing it. At some point something has to change, or some of those ships are going to start sinking,” stated Sir Steve. 

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