I don’t think local government has ever been under such financial pressure and it is set to get worse not better.
Why is this? Their are three things at play.
Firstly, I don’t believe that central government understands the role and function of local government, particularly in the delivery of social care services.
Secondly, the demands on local government services are increasing.
Thirdly, I believe that some Ministers, despite talking about localism, don’t wish Local Authorities to be autonomous from central government because they believe that freedom will be abused by Labour controlled councils.
Of these the first is the most worrying. Many Ministers, still believe that all Local Authorities have planning as the prime function. This is true of the smaller district councils but not of the county councils. The prime function of the county councils is to provide social care for the elderly, infirm, disabled and children. After that it is Public Health, transport and waste disposal ( not collection).
Government policies seem to be directed at planning with very little activity around social care unless something goes wrong. This is not strategic thinking. It is also severely affecting funding which is having an impact on elderly and children services social work recruitment.
Have no doubts, we are all sleep walking to the edge of a funding cliff. Never mind bright ideas by government, designed to catch the voters eye, if funding is not improved for social care the incidents of poor care will rise, people will die unnecessarily and in unpleasant circumstances and we will all become very unsatisfied with the service provided across all local authority services.
I was told, by a Minister, that this is not an MP inbox issue so it won’t be addressed until it is too late. Well, I think it is time it became an inbox issue.