From The Independent: Thousands of old and disabled people are at risk of losing vital support because long-term funding for adult social care has been neglected by successive governments, care chiefs have warned.
From Welfare Weekly: Years of funding cuts to children’s centres mean some of the poorest and most vulnerable families in Britain have nowhere to turn for help and support, a leading charity has warned.
A damning new report by UK charity Action for Children reveals that between 2014/15 and 2017/18 average spending by councils on children’s centres, including ‘Sure Start Centres, fell from £532 to just £412 per child.
As council funding was reduced the number of children and families supported by children’s centre’s plummeted by almost a fifth (18%). Worryingly, the number of children from the most deprived areas of the country using children’s centre’s has fallen by a shocking 22%.
Action for Children says the latest analysis suggests a direct correlation of the average developmental gap shrinking in areas where children’s centre use has increased, and a widening of the gap in areas where numbers have declined.
From The Morning Star: British football’s recent success is in danger, according to union GMB, after figures showed that more than 700 council pitches have been lost to Tory austerity.
With the government slashing council spending by 49 per cent since 2010, kids’ playing spaces have been one of the hardest hit areas.
North West England has been the worst hit region since 2010, losing a whopping 164 pitches during that period and the numbers show that in total, there were 710 fewer local authority-owned or operated football pitches in the 2017/18 financial year than there were in 2009/10 — before the Conservatives’ austerity project began.
From The Observer: More than 130,000 deaths in the UK since 2012 could have been prevented if improvements in public health policy had not stalled as a direct result of austerity cuts, according to a hard-hitting analysis to be published this week.
The study by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) thinktank finds that, after two decades in which preventable diseases were reduced as a result of spending on better education and prevention, there has been a seven-year “perfect storm” in which state provision has been pared back because of budget cuts, while harmful behaviours among people of all ages have increased.
Had progress been maintained at pre-2013 rates, around 131,000 lives could have been saved, the IPPR concludes. Despite promises made during the NHS’s 70th birthday celebrations last year to prioritise prevention, the UK is now only halfway up a table of OECD countries on its record for tackling preventable diseases.
From The Guardian: Council spending on local services has fallen by more than a fifth since 2010, according to a report from Britain’s leading independent economics thinktank.
In a reflection of the austerity drive imposed on local authorities by Conservative-led governments during the past decade, the Institute for Fiscal Studies said spending on services in England had fallen by 21% between 2009-10 and 2017-18.
In a sign of the increasing difficulties facing local authorities across the country, the leading tax and spending thinktank also said the funds available to councils would become increasingly inadequate in the 2020s, rendering the current financing system for the country’s local authorities through council tax and business rates unsustainable.
From HuffPost UK: Austerity-hit communities face yet more cutbacks to their local services as town halls sound the alarm over a devastating £8bn black hole in their finances.
Bus services and litter bins face the chop, while parks may be left unkempt and fly-tipping could go unpunished, the Local Government Association, which represents councils in England and Wales, has said.
Lollipop men and women, maintaining museums and galleries and council tax discounts for people who fall on tough times could also be severely reduced.
Pointing to the £8bn shortfall in council budgets by 2025, which flies in the face of Theresa May’s claims that austerity “is over”, the LGA’s Tory chairman Lord Porter said vital frontline services will be under threat over the next decade.
From the Morning Star: Cash-strapped councils have slashed their crime prevention budgets by more than half since the Tories went into government, according to new Labour analysis published today.
Spending on these services fell from £363 million to £154m between 2009/10 and 2017/18 – a cut of almost 60 per cent.
Fifteen of the 20 local authorities with the largest cuts to these services over the past eight years are Conservative controlled.
Over the same period, the number of council employees working on strategies to reduce local crime – such as burglary, fraud, violence, and anti-social behaviour – has fallen by more than a third.
From Welfare Weekly: The UK Government has been accused of attempting to “sneak out” further cuts to public health spending as MPs leave Parliament to begin their winter break.
Analysis by the Labour Party, backed up by the House of Commons Library, reveal that public health budgets will fall by £85 million next year, equal to £2 less per head or a drop of 3.3%.
Labour say the “devastating cuts” will affect vital public heath services such as stop smoking services, sexual health advice services and drug & alcohol misuse services for children and young people.
Jonathan Ashworth MP, Labour’s Shadow Health and Social Care Secretary, said: “It’s outrageous the Government have tried to sneak out further devastating cuts to local specialist public health services without debate on the day Parliament rises for the Christmas break.
“Only a few weeks ago the Secretary of State told us prevention was his priority and yet today he is cutting specialist public health services by a further £85 million. It’s the clearest evidence yet that ministerial promises on the NHS are entirely hollow.
“These swingeing cuts will fall on a number of vital community based health services such as those that support for mothers and babies, tackle obesity, help people stop smoking, sexual health services and specialist drug and alcohol treatments.”
From The Guardian: Almost 130 public libraries have closed in the last year in Britain while an extra 3,000 volunteers have been brought in to run remaining services, as the decade’s austerity pressures see local authorities continuing to apply swingeing cuts to budgets.
The annual survey of British libraries by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (Cipfa) has revealed a similar picture each year since 2010, with the number of branches and paid staff falling every year.
Over the last year, spending on libraries by local authorities fell by £30m to £741m. There was a net loss of 127 public libraries in England, Wales and Scotland, while 712 full-time employees lost or left their jobs and volunteer numbers increased by 3,000, to 51,394.
“Community-run” library branches have become the norm in the UK as councils ask volunteers to take the service off their books. In 2010, estimates from Public Libraries News suggest there were only around 10 libraries in the hands of volunteers; by 2017, the figure had risen to around 500. Cipfa calculations show that 10,000 new volunteers have joined Britain’s library service over the last three years, increasing from 41,402 in 2014-15 to 51,394 in 2017-18.
Rob Whiteman, CEO of Cipfa, said libraries were “a canary in the coal mine for what is happening across the local government sector”.
From Morning Star: Tens of thousands of Welsh local authority jobs have been thrown on the scrapheap thanks to Westminster government cuts by the Tories, an “audit of austerity” shows.
The Unison Cymru Wales analysis found that since 2010 there have been cuts to 28,100 council jobs, 10 per cent of the Welsh workforce, in the country.
Key findings in the audit were that more than 500 jobs have gone in 19 of the 22 councils in Wales.
Women were found to be more adversely affected than men, with women losing 18,400 of the cut jobs.
From Daily Mirror: Tory chancellor Philip Hammond is to slash £1.3 billion from frontline council services in the next 12 months.
Lifeline public health services face £96m funding drop as councils are forced to make cuts, Labour warns
From The Independent: Lifeline addiction support, sexual health clinics and stop-smoking services face cuts of £96m this year after “shortsighted and cynical” reductions to council budgets, Labour has claimed.
From Morning Star: Britain is on the brink of “social collapse” after “eight years of uninterrupted austerity” caused by brutal Tory spending cuts, Labour council leaders warned today.
Twenty-six leaders of Labour-controlled councils have signed an open letter calling on the government to “recognise the catastrophic impact” that #austerity has had on local authorities across Britain.
The statement, released under the banner of Councils Against Austerity, says budgets have been squeezed by direct government cuts and other pressures.
Pointing out that the shortage of funding has had a “disastrous knock-on effect” on services, the council leaders said that nearly half of all local authorities nationwide have experienced serious setbacks in their daily operations and increasing numbers are cutting all services to a bare minimum.
The leaders warn that many councils will soon be unable to perform the basic level of service expected of them, with street cleaners, park maintenance workers, library staff and other municipal workers facing an uncertain future.
Tory cuts leave alcohol addiction services at breaking point warns Labour, as figures show record low in treatment
From The Independent: Cuts to council budgets for addiction services have led to lowest number of people receiving treatment for alcohol dependency in a decade despite people in need continuing to grow, data from the Labour Party shows.
Owen Jones writes in the Guardian… According to a report commissioned by the Lloyds Bank Foundation, almost all the reduction in spending on disadvantaged people has been in the most deprived fifth of local authorities in England.
According to Newcastle’s council leader, Nick Forbes, his local authority will lose the equivalent of £268 per household by 2020. In relatively affluent, Tory-held Wokingham, the cut will be just £2. That leaves Newcastle with similar spending power as Wokingham, even though it has four times as many looked-after children and three times as many adults receiving social care. As Forbes puts it to me, if Newcastle wanted to counter the funding collapse by increasing council tax by 1%, it would raise about £1m. The same rise in leafy Surrey might expect to bring in more than £13m.
Take Salford, which is in the top 5% most deprived councils, and where rough sleeping has surged by 600% in the last five years. The causes are clear: cuts to council housing, benefits and council budgets. According to the new report, nearly half of spending on preventing homelessness has gone in favour of a 56% rise in spending on homelessness support.
“Local government is only making ends meet by robbing Peter to pay Paul,” explains the Lloyds Bank Foundation’s policy director, Duncan Shrubsole. “They’re now at a tipping point. If you’re having to cut preventative funding, to stop someone being homeless in the first place, to put more money into crisis – well, you can’t keep doing that.”
From HuffPost UK: Fraudsters are getting a free pass to prey on the elderly and vulnerable due to dramatic cuts to trading standards budgets, the Labour Party has claimed – and things could get worse after Brexit.
Cash for the council-run service, which protects consumers from unfairness and illegal practices, has fallen from £213m in 2009 to £105m this year, with the number of enforcement officers slashed by 56 percent, according to research by Labour.
From The Guardian: A Conservative MP has said ministers need to urgently “learn the lessons” from the financial collapse of Tory-run Northamptonshire county council if they are to prevent more councils slipping into insolvency.
Andrew Lewer, the MP for Northamptonshire South, said that while mismanagement had fuelled the Northamptonshire crisis, the council was also a victim of underlying financial pressures affecting all local authorities with social care responsibilities.
Lewer’s comments will be seen as a breaking of ranks both with the government and with his six fellow Tory MPs in the county, who have up to now sought to present the council’s problems as unrelated to wider funding issues.
His intervention came as Northamptonshire county councillors prepare to take further steps towards drawing up a drastic cuts plan that they hope will close a £70m black hole in the accounts over the next few months.
From The Guardian: The most high-profile symbol of the cuts in Northamptonshire to date has arguably the county’s 36 libraries, 21 of which the council wants to close or sell. There is popular outrage at this, not least in Northamptonshire’s more well-heeled rural areas, making its Tory MPs nervous. The proposal is being challenged in the courts.
Less well known is that 19 of the 21 libraries under threat host early-years children’s services such as mother-and-baby groups and health visitor sessions. These services were moved into libraries two years ago when an earlier round of cuts closed several SureStart centres. Where these services will go now is unclear.
Northamptonshire’s cuts will be felt in even its leafiest and most prosperous areas. Dig into the council’s cuts plans and you find an axe taken to highways budgets – less pothole filling, winter gritting and traffic light maintenance. The council expects legal challenges to these, too.
Tory-led Northamptonshire county council imposes emergency spending controls for second time in six months
From The Independent: A Conservative-led council has taken the unprecedented action of imposing emergency spending controls for the second time in six months after projecting a budget shortfall of up to £70m.
From The Guardian: When Jill White, 53, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2013, she had three years of treatment, including operations and chemotherapy. It was a stressful enough experience to go through, but White, who is single and doesn’t drive, also faced a four-hour round trip, on a good day, to get to a hospital that was only 13 miles away, because buses from her village of Tatworth, Somerset only run on average every two hours.
“My appointments were often at 9am, so to get to Taunton hospital I would have to leave by 7am,” she says. “And then, even though I would be really tired after treatment, I faced another two-hour trip to get home again. Four hours was a good journey. It could have quite easily been a lot longer.”
White says the service used to be quite good. “When I first moved here 20 years ago, there was a bus every hour, evening, weekend and bank holiday – and they were reasonably punctual. Now they are often 30 minutes late, there are no buses on Sundays or bank holidays – and nothing after 6pm.” White’s situation is far from unique. A report last week by the Campaign for Better Transport (CBT) found that local authority funding for bus routes in England and Wales has been cut by 45% since 2010 and more than 3,000 routes reduced or scrapped. This prompted the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, to raise the bus issue in parliament during last week’s prime minister’s questions, where he promised to “save” the bus industry and give all those aged under 26 free bus travel.