Funds needed now

The Local Government Association has called on the Treasury to
urgently invest extra funds in social services to avert “inevitable

Proposing the keynote motion of the LGA’s annual meeting,
Buckinghamshire Council leader David Shakespeare urged central
government to “do to personal social services what it has been
doing to education and invest in it”.

The motion, which was carried, committed the LGA to pressing
central government for an “improvement to the funding levels for
vulnerable people including children being cared for by
hard-pressed social services departments throughout the country”.
Shakespeare said local authorities were already spending £1
billion over and above the amount allocated to social services by
government through its standard spending assessment.

“We are able to deliver only a part of the service we would want
to and even that part is being funded by well-above- inflation
council taxes and cutbacks on other important local services,” he

Shakespeare said genuine demand for services was “dangerously
outstripping supply” and that the pressures would only continue to
rise with an increasing elderly population, widespread staff
recruitment and retention problems, and increasing litigation.

The Best Value Inspectorate and system were also high on the LGA
assembly’s agenda. LGA chairperson Sir Jeremy Beecham said the
system was “still too bureaucratic and burdensome for smaller
district councils” and needed to be streamlined.

The assembly passed a motion for the LGA to press the government
to instigate an immediate review of the Best Value

This should be carried out with a view to either merging the
Inspectorate with the District Audit Service or restricting the
Inspectorate’s remit to avoid duplication and reduce costs, the
motion stated.

In particular, the LGA wants the government and the Audit
Commission to accept that a one-size-fits-all approach to review
and inspection is inappropriate, and that resources dedicated to
the process should be proportional to the scale of services
involved and associated risks.

A consultation paper outlining LGA proposals for streamlining
Best Value and the associated audit and inspection regimes has been
sent to local government minister Nick Raynsford as a provisional
statement of the LGA’s position. Discussions with officials are due
to start shortly.

Streamlining Best Value is available from

Comments on the proposals and other ideas for reform should be
sent by 31 July to

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