The LGA Liberal Democrat response to the spending review
'More action needed on social care funding say LGA Lib Dems'
Lib Dem LGA Leader Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson said:
"Today's announcement that councils responsible for social care will be able to raise 2% in council tax to pay for adult social care will meet some of the cost pressures. However, that will not be nearly enough to solve the funding crisis. The £1.5 billion increase by 2020 in the Better Care Fund announced today, which will be for local authorities to spend on adult social care, must be new money, and not siphoned off from another important service.
"If all councils providing social care increased council tax by an extra 2 per cent each year they would raise £1.7 billion by 2020. The Health Foundation recently forecast a funding shortfall of £6bn by 2020/21. That is before you take into account the impact of the new living wage on social care providers.
"Earlier this year, the Tories also took the decision to delay the introduction of the care cost cap, which Liberal Democrats legislated for in Coalition. They have not set out any steps today to bring forward that funding again. While the social care system is in clear need of additional funding in the short term, the Conservatives must not lose sight of the need for longer term reform."
Cllr Richard Kemp, LGA Lib Dem Spokesperson on Social Care, added:
"Liberal Democrats have long called for more funding for social care. But it cannot be solely left to local council taxpayers to fix our chronically underfunded social care system and any council tax rise will be especially tough in deprived areas. Services supporting our elderly and vulnerable are at breaking point now – we cannot wait until 2020.
"And cuts to public health of 3.9% a year will mean less preventative health work being carried out – meaning a higher cost to the NHS in the long term".
'The Chancellors statement is all smoke and mirrors says Lib Dems'
Lib Dem LGA Deputy Leader Mayor Dorothy Thornhill said:
Reducing government support for councils to almost nothing is going to really hit those areas which depend most on that support.
Osborne's "permission" to raise council tax for social care is welcome but it is a sorry state of affairs for councils to react with such relief when the Treasury allows them to set their own local tax.
Even for those areas of wealth or economic growth that stand to benefit from rises in local income the numbers still just don't add up, meaning many services that had already been cut to bone will just disappear.
Today's Spending Review has handed down a difficult £4.1 billion funding cut over this Spending Review period for our residents and comes on top of almost £10 billion in further demand-led cost pressures facing councils by the end of the decade. The consequences for our local communities who will suffer as a result should not be underestimated.
"It is wrong that the services our local communities rely on will face deeper cuts than the rest of the public sector yet again and for local taxpayers to be left to pick up the bill for new government policies without any additional funding.
(Note: all councils will be able, should they choose, to increase council tax by 1.99% in addition to the 2% levy that upper tier authorities will be able to raise for social care)
'Millions on Councils' waiting lists abandoned by Government say Lib Dems'
Lib Dem LGA Deputy Leader Cllr Chris White said:
"Over 60,000 people are currently living in temporary accommodation and over a million more are on council waiting lists. These people have been abandoned by the Government and will continue to face a bleak future. The Chancellor is going out of his way to destroy any hope of them getting a permanent roof over their heads. Not everyone wants to - or can afford to - buy one of Mr Osborne's shining new "starter" homes - at £250,000 outside London or £450,000 within the capital.
"The Government needs to wake up to the fact that this country is facing a housing crisis and it is going from bad to worse. Government diktats are further hampering the ability of councils and housing associations to improve and build more homes.
"Councils are not, and never have been, the barrier to growth and development of more homes: this is yet another Osborne fairy tale. Councils need to be able to ensure genuine affordable homes continue to be built for rent and sale and Government should give them the powers to get on with it."
'Government trashes its own green credentials'
Cllr Gerald Vernon Jackson, LGA Liberal Democrat Group Leader said:
"George Osborne has once again trashed his government's own green credentials in the Spending Review. He has slashed £132 million from schemes for home insulation, cut £700 million from the Renewable Heat Incentive, which supported environmentally friendly heating systems. He has also cut funding for renewable energy.
"Once again the Conservatives have shown themselves to not care about the environment. So much for their claims to be the ‘Greenest government ever'.
'Chancellor is slashing funding for key school services'
Cllr Liz Green, LGA Lib Dem Spokesperson for Children and Young People's Services said:
"The government have looked around for an easy cut to make in the department for education and decided, as with many other areas, that local services are fair game.
The Education Services Grant helps ensure that children are getting the education they deserve, from helping to provide speech, physiotherapy and occupational therapies and making sure that children are in school when they should be, to carrying out DBS checks on staff, school improvement and providing music services in schools.
Behind this move is a desire, driven not by evidence but only by conservative ideology, to entirely eliminate the role of democratically elected councils in the education of local children.
We will wait to see what education duties local councils will be relieved of to reflect the cut in funding or whether this is council taxpayers once again being asked to fund the Chancellor's bid to be prime minister."
26 November 2015