Sunday, January 29, 2023

Council leaders disagree on funding for social care


By Local Democracy Reporter
Steve Shaw

LABOUR Councillors from Southend and Basildon have signed a joint letter that urges the new Prime Minister to boost funding for social care and reverse cuts.

The leaders of both Southend and Basildon Councils are among the 105 Labour council leaders to sign a letter from the Local Government Association that calls for Prime Minister Boris Johnson to invest £2billion in children’s services and a further £2billion in adult social care.

It also calls for “ending austerity in local government” and for “no more sticking plasters”.

The hope is for these changes to be made part of the Government’s three-year council spending review, which will determine how councils are funded from 2020 onwards.

Southend Councillor Matt Dent, spokesperson for the Labour Group, said: “The situation with local government is not news to anyone, it has taken the brunt of the cuts and has become unsustainable.

“Now we have Boris as Prime Minister and he is saying he will throw money around and what is needed is proper funding for local government for things like social care and to repair the state of our roads.

“There is going to be a review and I would hope that local government will get the money it needs.

“It is just a question of whether or not he will keep his word.”

Basildon Council leader, Councillor Gavin Callaghan, said: “The last ten years have seen the Conservatives ripping council funding apart and if we based it on patterns of behaviour, you can’t be very hopeful that the Tories will invest in local government. Boris Johnson would have to reverse a decade of decisions.

“What we’ve seen in the last ten years is a Conservative Government that has cut communities to the bone, taken police away from the streets and not funding health and social care.”

He continued: “What people need to understand is that from April 1 2020, we have no idea what our financial position is going to be, we have no idea whether or not we are going to be able to provide for residents in the same way.

“We need to plan how we are going to deliver services to the 200,000 people in Basildon who expect their bins to be collected and expect ordinary council services to be delivered.”

The Conservative leader of Thurrock Council, Councillor Rob Gledhill, was more positive about council funding and said that councils need to adjust to deal with the financial pressures.

He said: “In Thurrock, we have a balanced budget for four years with surpluses and we have been clear that local authorities need to live within their means and rather than moan about what we used to have, work with what we’ve got.

“We have gone a different route and become and more commercial route. We have done this with zero per cent increase to council tax and we have a surplus with no cuts to public services.

“We can show that it is possible to go a different route.”


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