By Christopher Morgan
New analysis reveals crippling cuts that will be forced on key frontline services including adult social care in Yorkshire and the Humber if the Government continues to back-track on their pledge to support councils in the wake of the Coronavirus crisis.
Local authorities are facing a £10bn Coronavirus black hole, forcing cuts across the board, with one of the biggest being to care, indicating a £3.5bn cut to adult social care this year.
Councils estimate the funding gap from coronavirus to be around £13bn in 2020/21, made up from extra spending and loss of income.
The Government have so far funded just £3.2bn of this, leaving a gap of around £10 billion.
This new analysis, based on 2019/20 budget estimates, shows Coronavirus-related income losses and potentially devastating impacts on social care across the UK, including:
- A £10bn Coronavirus black hole for local authorities, as mentioned earlier, which would mean £3.5bn cut to social care, as well £2bn to children’s social care and £700m to public health.
- The Equivalent of 23,155 adult social care places either reduced or gone completely in Yorkshire and the Humber, with over 225,000 nationally.
- Other key services at risk of cuts if the Government fails to plug the funding gap, including libraries, children’s centres, leisure centres, public parks, road safety, road gritting and street lighting.
In response to these potential figures, Cllr Shabir Pandor, Leader of Kirklees Council, said: “These figures are alarming and it shows the huge impact it’s going to have on our residents who are already suffering due to coronavirus.
“People will find these figures terrifying. There have been many sacrifices made, lives lost, business going but and livelihoods lost due to the Coronavirus crisis.
“Carers have gone through tremendous strains and pressures and families have been devasted.
“If we don’t get the support from Government then it will mean that they have been abandoned.
“It would be a scandal if Up to 1562 vulnerable people lose their care across Kirklees.
“As Leader, my Cabinet and I will do whatever we can to shield those most in need from these cuts, but the reality is that if Ministers suck another £10bn out of our budgets – on top of years of under-investment – then frontline services will bear the brunt and our community will suffer.”
Councils in England have already seen government funding reduce by £16bn since 2010, leading many to rely on income streams that have now been severely affected by the economic shock caused by lockdown measures.
Ministers promised to stand behind local authorities’ coronavirus-led budget reductions.
On March 18th ministers provided assurances that they would make sure the government provides “whatever funding is needed for councils to get through this and come out the other side”
However, last week, Ministers rowed back on those plans, with Communities secretary Robert Jenrick telling MPs that councils should not “labour under a false impression” that all costs would be reimbursed, provoking widespread anger amongst local government leaders and MPs.
Labour’s Shadow Communities and Local Government Secretary Steve Reed MP, said: “Carers and our loved ones they care for are on the frontline of the fight against Coronavirus.
“Local authorities are the biggest funders of social care in England – so when the Government promised to stand behind councils through this crisis Labour supported them.
“But now Ministers are breaking that promise, leaving councils with a £10bn black hole forcing 21% cuts across the board.
“Unless the Government drops those plans the frontline heroes we’re cheering will lose their jobs and the equivalent of 225,000 frightened older people and vulnerable adults will lose the support they rely on.
“That would be a catastrophe for social care, disastrous for those who lose support as providers are forced out of business, and would once again fail the very people putting their lives on the line to get us through this crisis”
“This government promised to do whatever it takes – if our loved ones see care taken away in their hour of need it will be devastating and unacceptable.
“The Government should change course, now.”