A delegation from the Local Government Association met ministers
to press for more funding for social services, in the wake of the
recent proposals for this year’s local government finance
settlement, writes Jonathan Pearce.
The delegation met local government minister Nick Raynsford and
health minister Jacqui Smith to re-emphasise the “huge financial
shortages still facing social services across the country”.
The LGA has also joined forces with the Association of Directors
of Social Services and the Societies of County and Municipal
Treasurers to produce a new comprehensive survey – due to
report next month – of how much councils are currently
spending over their government allocation and what funding they
will need in the next financial year.
LGA chairperson Sir Jeremy Beecham said he was pleased about the
total increase in local government funding, but was “very
disappointed” at the lack of new money for personal social
services, beyond that allocated in the Spending Review 2000.
Councils are already spending more than £1 billion over
their spending allocation, because of growing demands, he added.
And while the government’s £300 million winter pressures
‘bed-blocking’ grant announced last year would go some way to
addressing the problem, it was simply not enough.
“We have therefore pressed the government to consider boosting
the allocation for social services from potential underspend in
this financial year by the department of health and the department
for transport, local government and the regions,” he said.
The LGA has also highlighted particular areas of concern within
social services departments, including: children’s services,
particularly for children with autism, unaccompanied asylum-seeking
children and those subject to court orders; older people’s
services; and services for people with learning difficulties.