Spending Review: cash pressures remain

Amid gloomy economic forecasts, the Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled his Spending Review, which he said aimed to “protect the public services most affected by coronavirus”.

For local government it was announced that, alongside a 2 per cent increase in regular council tax, social care authorities will be able to levy a 3 per cent adult social care precept. The Treasury said this would give them access to an additional £1 billion for adult social care.

This comes on top of the continuation of the 2019/20 £1 billion increase in grant funding for adults and children’s social care, which is also being increased by £300 million next year.

Councils will receive a further £1.55 billion to address COVID-19 pressures and other measures saw the Chancellor introduce a new £4 billion Levelling Up Fund to pay for upgrading local infrastructure and £250 million for councils to tackle rough sleeping.

Cllr James Jamieson, LGA Chairman, said: “Council services have been critical in the fight against COVID-19. 

“It is good that the Chancellor has provided further funding for councils to manage the cost pressures they face as a result of the pandemic. New funding for adult and children’s social care will also help address some – but not all – of the pressures these services face next year. 

“Councils will still have to find savings to already stretched budgets in order to plug funding gaps and meet their legal duty to set a balanced budget next year.”

He added: “Council tax rises have never been the answer to the long-term pressures faced by councils, particularly in social care, raising different amounts of money in different areas, unrelated to need. It is not the long-term solution that is desperately needed.”

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