CCN News 2015 | 26 November 2015
“CCN and its member councils have been arguing for additional funding for social care and a rebalancing of the local government finance system, and today the Chancellor has listened to us in his Spending Review.
The additional funding for adult social care services, including the new social care precept, expansion of the Better Care Fund and reforms to New Homes Bonus are positive announcements. The Government has clearly listened to the compelling evidence submitted by CCN on the perilous state of social care services and the demand-led pressures facing upper-tier councils. These announcements will go some way to shoring up local services and incentivising integration.
Despite the Government listening to our calls for more support in social care, I do expect the final settlement to be tough for local government. There are clearly further substantial reductions in core grants and counties will have to continue to make significant savings over the coming period.
As ever, the devil will be in the detail and the level of reductions for counties will only be realised during the local government settlement. I am determined to ensure that counties get the best deal possible and work with Government to achieve long-term sustainability for our members.
The introduction of the social care precept heralds a further fundamental shift in local government finance. With further reductions in grants, the responsibility for financing local government services is shifting towards local areas.
CCN has argued for more fiscal autonomy and local independence, which we welcome. However, as we enter this new world of local government finance the Government must fundamentally reform how counties are funded.
We strongly welcome a commitment to rebalance support towards those authorities with social care responsibilities and unrelenting demand-led pressures. Reforming New Homes Bonus is part of the equation. However, given the Government’s optimistic projections on business rate growth, reform must extend to business rates retention and wider local government finance. Failure to do so will leave those authorities facing the biggest demand-led pressures facing the largest reductions in key frontline services.
Allowing local areas to retain 100% of business rates is the next step along the road to financial freedom. We will work with Government to ensure sensible baseline financial stability for counties with fairness and equity across the country, and engage in serious discussions about the scope of new responsibilities and how these functions will be funded.”
Notes to Editor