Council cuts threaten viability of adult and children’s social care, MPs warn

Report found services in the most deprived areas, where funding has been hardest hit, may struggle to provide statutory care

Photo: Rachel Schraer
Photo: Rachel Schraer

MPs have criticised the Department for Communities and Local Government for failing to review council spending cuts, warning the government will not appreciate cuts that threaten the “viability” of statutory services.

report following the Public Accounts Committee’s inquiry into the financial sustainability of local authorities found the 37% reduction in funding since 2010 has not hit authorities equally.

Some have faced reductions of just 5%, while others have had to deal with massive 40% reductions. In the most deprived areas, where funding has been hardest hit, services may even struggle to provide care, MPs warned.

Financially sustainable?

Committee chair Margaret Hodge said: “Further cuts could not just undermine the entire viability of most optional services, but might threaten statutory services in these areas.”

The report stated: “The Department does not understand the impact over time of reductions in funding to local authorities, and the potential risks of individual authorities becoming financially unsustainable if reductions continue.”

The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) looked only at data on spending, without much information on service levels, service quality and financial stability, according to criticism from Hodge.

“Looking to the future, if funding reductions were to continue following the next spending review, we question whether the [DCLG] would be in a position to provide assurance that all authorities could maintain the full range of their statutory services,” she said.

Overall, local authorities have responded well to funding cuts, the report stated, but external auditors of councils have voiced concern over whether some authorities will be able to continue making savings and be financially sustainable.

“This is particularly the case for authorities responsible for adult social care and children’s services,” the report stated.

Impact on service users

Value for money in local authorities can be damaged by “cost-shunting”, Hodge said. She cited the example of how reductions in local authorities’ social care provision has, in some cases, caused ‘bed blocking’ in NHS hospitals.

The DCLG’s lack of data on the level of services councils are providing means it’s in a “weak” position to know how funding cuts are affecting service users, the report stated.

The Committee has now called on the DCLG to regularly review existing activity data across adult and children’s services to monitor the impact of funding reductions on services, including those delivered by other local bodies, such as the NHS.

More from Community Care

2 Responses to Council cuts threaten viability of adult and children’s social care, MPs warn

  1. Fred February 3, 2015 at 2:46 pm #

    I saw this and it reminded me of George Osborne’s claim; “we are all in it together”.

    So while Greasy George sends off his lawyers to Brussels to fight a legal battle to protect the bankers’ bonuses (the people who caused the financial meltdown), kids in care and our most vulnerable adults are having their services cut to the point of non-viability.

    I am not sure that the capacity to redistribute money from children in poverty, the sick and the disabled to the stinking rich has very much more scope.

  2. jim kenny February 3, 2015 at 5:23 pm #

    So typical of the Public sector. Blame culture has done this. Its NEVER their fault.
    By the time they have finished pushing this about amongst their many different departments and continued to ignore the crux of the matter…..UNDERFUNDING of the private sector services, I reckon it will be too late and most of those services will have gone bust. Then what????
    In the meantime watch as they knowingly underfund services while at the same time beating them with a stick to try to get them to improve standards with less money.
    Its NOT going to happen, even with the massively increased safeguarding department staffing numbers. You just can’t make this up.
    In the world I would like to live in, what the public sector have already done to the private sector in social care by using their monopoly position to underfund while demanding a better service would be viewed as criminal activity. However, in the real world it will probably be unsatisfactorily resolved and current provision of service will continue to be torched financially at the expense of the very vulnerable elderly. What a joke.
    DISGRACEFUL