Local services come back fighting off the ropes, analysis shows
The extent to which local authorities have displayed resilient aptitude in delivering and maintaining vital public services in the teeth of financial cutbacks has been laid bare in new data-analysis from the think-tank Localis.
Findings unearthed in a short report entitled ‘On the Ropes: social care provision under austerity’ outline how competently authorities across England have performed in delivering adult and children’s social care in the headwinds of inexorably rising demographic demand and a halving of resources since 2010.
The analysis shows most users of adult social care nationally remain satisfied with their care and support – with some authorities even managing to increase satisfaction among users – despite funding cuts.
However, the report suggests that in addition to adult social care pressures, complex and interlinked problems associated with rough sleeping and the ‘hidden homeless’, mental health, child poverty and the increase in numbers of looked after children threaten to overburden authorities unless greater fiscal headroom is granted in the next Spending Review period.
Report author, Localis head of data research, Joe Fyans, said: “Local government in England has not been knocked down, but it is on the ropes.
“A central and unreported element of the now workaday crisis we sometimes takes for granted is the incredible aptitude which local authorities have shown under continued pressure.
“The scale of the cutbacks and impact on local services has been well-rehearsed and brought to national attention with instances such as Northamptonshire County Council’s well-reported demise.
“But were it not for the fiscal straitjacket which has had a distorting effect on local authorities capacity and ability to deliver outcomes, quality of life and wellbeing may well otherwise have increased – particularly for the elderly and vulnerable across the country.
“Without greater financial autonomy and headroom in the future, our local leaders and communities will be left with nothing more than limited choices on where to deliver and prioritise bare ‘core offer’ services.”