Whilst that funding gap will be met – it will be filled from increased local taxation, reserves usage, and further cutbacks to vital and frontline services. In recent months, CCN has warned that a basic ‘core offer’ of services will become the norm without new resource for councils. In order to avoid significant service cutbacks, CCN is arguing for a ‘fairer future’ for counties – including extra resource for councils in the forthcoming Spending Review to offset extra demand for services due to population increases.
At the same time, counties receive lower levels of funding for key services than any other local authority type, including social care, county schools, and children’s services, despite withstanding the most acute pressures for these services. A recent report from the National Audit Office found that adults and children’s social care now accounts for 65% of county authority budgets, up from 56% in 2013/14. This is only set to get more severe over the next few years as county authorities continue to grapple with rising demand in statutory services at a time of reductions in funding
The government’s fair funding review – and current direction of travel – is welcome, but is imperative it produces a fairer deal for counties and eradicates the unfairness in the current system.