Directors reject funding increase

The Association of Directors of Social Services has hit out at
next year’s 6.5 per cent increase in total social services
spending announced in the proposed local government finance
settlement, writes Jonathan Pearce.

The total government spending on social services of £11,210
million comprises standard spending assessments of £9,231
million – an increase of 5.4 per cent on the current year
– plus ring-fenced or targeted grants of £1,938 million
and capital financing of £41 million.

But ADSS resources committee chairperson Liz Railton said the
funding did nothing to match the increasing pressures in social
services, including rising care costs and growth in the numbers of
service users.

“The settlement does not address either the gap between what
authorities are actually spending – or over-committing
– and what government is actually spending,” she said.
“Children’s services, in particular, are still under

The Local Government Association, while welcoming the general
increases, has also expressed disappointment at the fact that no
extra money has been allocated for social services in addition to
that predicted in the Treasury’s spending review of last

“It is clear that the allocation has not altered (from the
spending review), despite the significant and highly publicised
pressure that services for the elderly and children are under,”
said Local Government Association chairperson Sir Jeremy

Beecham also hit out at the increase in the use of ring-fenced
grants in the settlement, which for local government as a whole has
jumped from 4.5 per cent in 1997 to around 15 per cent for next
year, signalling increased bureaucracy and reduced local discretion
for councils.

For social services, the picture is worse with ring-fenced
funding now making up 17 per cent of total spending. But the
department of health said it would announce in the “next few weeks”
how it plans to differentiate in the conditions for ring-fenced
grants between top-performers and poor-performers.

“Where we do differentiate, the best performing councils will be
allocated a targeted grant with no conditions attached – in
other words a devolution of power. Those performing less well will
continue to receive a ring-fenced grant with conditions attached,”
the doh said in a letter to councils last week. “This will act both
as a mechanism to ensure we can have some confidence in improved
delivery and as an incentive to improve in order to win

But the ADSS is unphased by ring-fenced funding. Railton said:
“We don’t have a problem with money being badged for
government initiatives. What we do have a problem with is the core
funding for baseline requirements.”

Councils have until early January to respond to the



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