Making the case in committee

In Parliament, that work takes many forms – including giving evidence to influential committees in the Commons and the Lords.

The LGA’s Deputy Chief Executive Sarah Pickup gave evidence to the House of Lords’ Economic A airs Committee, as part of its ongoing inquiry into social care funding. The session was an opportunity to highlight findings from our social care green paper consultation response (see www.futureofadultsocialcare.co.uk and first 630) and the funding options for social care.

Ms Pickup outlined the funding challenge facing councils’ social care services, particularly in the context of wider cuts to local government. She said this could not be resolved without consideration of new and innovative solutions, including taxation, and that the results from our polling showed there was public appetite for increases in taxation in order to fund the system.

Ms Pickup also highlighted the challenges facing care providers and the rising number of companies handing back contracts.

She told Peers: “Business rates and council tax cannot be the only solution for services such as adult social care and children’s services, exactly because the pattern of growth in need does not reflect the pattern of growth in business rates, even in aggregate nationally… this challenge is not going to be solved without looking at raising additional national funds through taxation, national insurance, some form of new premium, or a different kind of targeted insurance scheme.”

Cllr Anntoinette Bramble, Chair of the LGA’s Children and Young People’s Board, gave evidence to the Commons’ Education Committee, as part of its inquiry into school and college funding. Other local government representatives giving evidence included Cllr Paul Carter, Chair of the County Councils Network, and Yolande Burgess, Strategy Director at London Councils.

Cllr Bramble highlighted the funding pressures facing many schools and the particularly acute pressures in budgets for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) – referencing LGA commissioned research suggesting a shortfall of SEND funding of around £500 million in 2018/19. She called for a fairer funding system that adequately considers the wider impact on children and families.

Since Cllr Bramble gave her evidence, the Government has announced £250 million additional funding for councils for SEND (see p4). The LGA is predicting the shortfall in this area could rise to more than £800 million in 2019/20.

Responding to Ofsted findings that funding cuts are not impacting on educational outcomes, Cllr Bramble insisted “over time, results could be in jeopardy”. Local authorities and schools are under pressure, with fewer resources available for early intervention and prevention work with children and families, which could result in more children having to access statutory help.

Meanwhile, Cllr Peter Fleming, Chairman of our Improvement and Innovation Board, gave evidence to the Commons Science and Technology Committee on digital government. Appearing alongside the Office for National Statistics and  Deloitte, Cllr Fleming said good local services rely on effective data sharing and he highlighted how councils are continually improving their use of data. There was recognition throughout the session that local government has done well to digitise services.

The LGA will continue to work with committees, and parliamentarians generally, to make the case for better funding for local government, in the run-up to this year’s Spending Review.

For more information about the LGA’s work in Parliament, please visit www.local.gov.uk/parliament.

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