Council workers balancing budgets

Budget concerns remain following Autumn Statement

Following yesterday's Autumn Statement, London Councils has warned that boroughs are still likely to be left balancing their budgets on a knife-edge.

Whilst one positive to come from the Chancellor’s statement was the increase to Local Housing Allowance rates, finances across the capital are still going to remain as the homelessness crisis and wider pressures surrounding social care continue to build. The warning from London Councils comes as none of the measures that were announced yesterday are likely to alter the ongoing situation, with council shortfalls of £600 million expected to continue this year.

These funding shortfalls have come from increased demand for services, spiralling inflation, and an insufficient amount of government support.

Acting Chair of London Councils Cllr Claire Holland said:

“Boroughs will continue to face massive budget pressures. Many are struggling to balance their budgets and the Autumn Statement leaves them teetering on the edge.

“London’s homelessness emergency is a key concern. After years of campaigning for an increase in Local Housing Allowance, we welcome the decision to end the freeze. Boosting LHA is essential for helping low-income Londoners pay their rent and avoid homelessness. This is good news for London renters and for boroughs’ hard-pressed homelessness services.

“But with one in 50 Londoners currently homeless and living in temporary accommodation arranged by their local borough, the housing crisis remains a critical risk to town hall budgets. Enormous and growing pressures can also be seen across other vital services, especially adult and children’s social care.

“We will keep pushing for more funding support in the face of these on-going challenges, as well as the long-term reforms to local government finance that are crucial for sustainable London’s local services in the years to come.”

As the Chancellor failed to address pressures that are continuing to mount in social care, the President of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services has responded. ADASS President Beverley Tarka said:

“The Chancellor has said nothing about investing in social care, so we will want to look at the detail. Social Care transforms lives. Lack of extra funds for adult social care in the Autumn Statement means many older and disabled people will not get timely care, support and safeguards. Some will end up in hospital or be delayed leaving hospital. Lives will be restricted or foreshortened for want of vital care.

“Rising needs, rising costs and a funding squeeze mean nearly half a million people are on care waiting lists. Overburdened unpaid carers are struggling to cope, and low pay and poor conditions means there are not enough care workers. Directors are seeing more requests to help with mental health, carer breakdown and people with care and support needs experiencing domestic abuse. Last year’s extra funding for social care helped but hasn’t resolved the crisis.”

With the lack of support for local authorities that is continuing after the Autumn Statement, as well as the increase to council tax that is expected next year, the Local Government Association also continued its call for further devolution of power and funding, on top of further long-term financial support from the government to allow councils to deliver for communities.


Image credit: iStock

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