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Quarter Of Tory Councillors Think Adult Social Care Is Underfunded In Their Area

A quarter of Conservative councillors think their local authority does not receive enough money to meet statutory duty service level requirements for adult social care (Alamy)

4 min read

A quarter of Conservative councillors think their local authority does not receive enough money to meet statutory duty service level requirements for adult social care.

Polling carried out by Savanta for Labour Together between February and March, seen by PoliticsHome, asked 391 Conservative councillors in England, Scotland and Wales for their views on their local authority’s provisions. 24 per cent of respondents felt their local authority did not have enough funds to provide adequate adult social care provisions, while 19 per cent said the same for children’s safeguarding and social care. 

Nearly a third – 32 per cent – said they did not have enough funding to meet statutory duty service level requirements for road maintenance. 

16 per cent felt funding was inadequate for education services, 14 per cent for housing services, and 10 per cent for libraries. Only 5 per cent felt funding for waste collection meant they were not able to provide statutory levels of service.

With 2,660 council seats in England due to be contested in the local elections on 2 May, failing public services are at the top of many voters' concerns. However, adult social care often makes up the vast majority of council expenditure. A report by the King's Fund charity in February recommended that the health and care system in England should shift its focus away from hospital care to primary and community services if it is to be effective and sustainable.

Conservative Councillor George Perfect, Deputy Leader of the Opposition at Medway Council in Kent, said that securing adequate funding for adult and children’s social care was particularly challenging due to increasing demand. 

“The increasing need in recent years across both services, coupled with major workforce challenges and high inflation, means even with authorities receiving above inflation increases in income (across all revenue streams) it isn’t sufficiently meeting need,” he told PoliticsHome.

“Particularly in the South East, a number of upper tier authorities outside London in the Home Counties have lower council tax bases and Revenue Support Grant from Government, but still face competition with London boroughs for staff and providers. 

“The government committed a further £500m through the adults social care grant for this year following a consultation with councillors that is very much welcome”.

Another Tory councillor based in Durham said they had also heard concerns about funding for social care from other councils, and that there clearly had been an increase in pressure. 

But they were optimistic that recent government commitments would help to improve the situation, including the £500m social care boost earlier this year and for road maintenance the channelling of £8.3bn that was previously going towards the northern leg of the HS2 that has now been scrapped.

"The government is also looking at how local authorities can plan further ahead and making it more straightforward, for instance with the Funding Simplification Doctrine that is being developed, so hopefully there will be some improvements in this area so councils can plan further ahead and more efficiently," they said.

"And hopefully inflation will continue falling as that obviously affects local authority spending in each of these areas and across the piece."

Christabel Cooper, Director of Research at Labour Together, said the survey results showed the negative impact of local austerity measures. 

“Our polling finds that many Tory councillors are at odds with their own government when it comes to local authority funding,” she said. 

“14 years of cuts to budgets have undermined the ability of councils to deliver services that they are legally obliged to provide, with nearly a quarter of respondents saying that they do not have enough money to meet statutory requirements on adult social care. 

“These Conservative councillors have seen the day-to-day effects of centrally imposed austerity on their local areas, and they are understandably unhappy.”

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