Funds needed now

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

    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
    said.

    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
    Inspectorate.

    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 www.lga.gov.uk

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

    matthew.warburton@lga.gov.uk

    More from Community Care

    Comments are closed.