Monday, 20 February 2017 12:01

Services face cuts despite council tax rise

Written by  Ruralcity Media
Services face cuts despite council tax rise

VITAL local services face further cuts – despite forthcoming rises in council tax.

Council tax rises in 2017/18 will not bring in enough money to prevent further deep cuts to local services, said the Local Government Association.

LGA chairman Lord Porter said: "Services supporting the most vulnerable people in our communities are at breaking point.

"Many councils are increasingly unable to turn down the chance to raise desperately-needed money for social care and other local services next year.

    See also: Rural social care is underfunded, warns network

"But extra council tax income will not bring in anywhere near enough money to alleviate the growing pressure on social care both now and in the future."

Then Rural Services Network has warned that a new system should be introduced to ensure adequate rural social care funding.

The network argues that it is more expensive to deliver services to rural communities, where one in three rural residents will be older than 65 by 2039.

Network chief executive Graham Biggs said core adult social care resources for the next financial year amounted to £22 per head in rural areas compared to £21 per head.

All councils can raise council tax by up to 1.99% in 2017/18 to fund local services without the need for a local referendum.

Most district councils can increase by £5 per year at Band D level.

England's 151 social care authorities can increase council tax by up to a further 3% in 2017/18 (up to 4.99% in total).

Income from this extra precept must be spent on social care.

Analysis by the LGA suggests147 of England's 151 social care authorities are considering or have approved introducing the social care precept in 2017/18.

This would raise £543 million to pay for social care services.

But the LGA says this extra income will be swallowed up by the cost to councils of paying for the government's National Living Wage, which could total up to £600m next year.

If all district councils use their full council tax flexibilities in 2017/18 they would raise an additional £60 million to fund local services.

But with local government facing an overall funding gap of £5.8bn by 2020, the LGA says council tax rises will not prevent the need for continued cutbacks to local services.

Councils will also have to continue to divert more money from other local services, including filling potholes, maintaining parks and green spaces and running children's centres, it says.

Lord Porter said: "Social care faces a funding gap of at least £2.6 billion by 2020. It cannot be left to council taxpayers alone to try and fix this crisis.

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