Funding pressures hit social services

Social services in nearly a third of local authorities look
certain to face cuts because of the government’s commitment
to prioritise education funding, writes Derren

Analysis of figures from the Local Government Association shows
46 out of 150 local authorities in England will be forced to pass
on virtually their entire grant increase under the formula spending
share onto schools, leaving less than 1 per cent to spend on other
services, such as social care and housing.

Although many of the councils hardest hit will receive increases
above 4 per cent for 2004/05, 13 will be left with nothing once
schools’ funding has been ‘passported’. A further 17
will receive a rise of between 0.1 and 0.5 per cent with the
remainder between 0.6 and 1 per cent. City of London gets by far
the highest increase at 10.4 per cent.

The government has instructed councils to pass on their entire
increase in education funding to schools next year to avoid a
repeat of problems earlier this year which saw some schools having
to make teachers redundant because of a lack of funds.
Historically, some authorities use increases in education money to
fund other services.

Nick Rijke, leader of the Liberal Democrat group at the LGA,
said this is likely to result in services being cut because council
taxes could not rise as much as last year’s 12 per cent.
“That means there is no way out other than service cuts and
social services are an obvious target because other council
services have already been severely cut,” Rijke added.

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