MAYOR of Hackney Philip Glanville has responded to the 2020 Budget delivered by the Chancellor in the House of Commons today (11 March) – “While the Government says the decade of austerity is over, it is clearly not.”
He went on: “We welcome the measures the Chancellor announced to support vulnerable residents, workers and small businesses through the outbreak of Coronavirus, and we continue to work closely with Public Health England to limit its spread in Hackney.
However, his wider budget proposals showed that while the Government says the decade of austerity is over, it is clearly not.
By 2022, Hackney will have lost more than half of its core funding from central government – the biggest cut per household of any London borough. While local authorities have been innovative in cutting costs and finding new ways to do more with less, vital public services are now being stretched to breaking point.
The Government’s mission to ‘level up’ the rest of the country should not be at the expense of places like Hackney – which despite huge changes over the last 20 years, still faces just as complex challenges and families living in poverty as other places in England.
Yet today there was no mention of the huge funding gaps in places like Hackney to deliver adult social care or provide support for children with special educational needs. Rather than just focussing on filling in potholes, the Chancellor should focus on filling the gaping holes in frontline public services.
That’s why the Chancellor’s upcoming Fair Funding Review must actually be fair – not use some botched formula to divert funding away from where it is needed most.
Finally, the Government has acknowledged responsibility for tackling the legacy of the Grenfell Tower disaster and funding the removal of dangerous cladding from all high-rise buildings. However, the £1billion announced will likely only scratch the surface of what is required, and thousands of leaseholders remain unable to secure mortgages on their homes.
And while, as I argued for at the Communities and Local Government Select Committee on Monday, https://parliamentlive.tv/Event/Index/361cdcc7-644e-435f-bb7c-4f27c4e109f1 we welcome the announcement of additional funding for housebuilding and the reversal of the counterproductive increase in the Public Works Loan Board rate, the devil will be in the detail.
Today’s announcements were yet again a sticking plaster instead of the long-term reforms, devolution and freedom that local authorities need if they are to continue to deliver frontline services to our most vulnerable residents.”
The Council’s budget for 2020/21 was approved at a meeting on 26 February. The proposals included a council tax increase of 3.99% – less than 90p a week for the average Hackney household.
The increase in council tax will help to address government cuts which have seen the Council’s core grant shrink by half since 2010, whilst demand for services has increased dramatically. Hackney has seen the biggest funding cut per household of any London borough, at £1,459.
Find out more about the scale of Hackney’s budget challenge on the Budget page https://hackney.gov.uk/budget
The Government made a series of announcements https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/budget-2020-documents/budget-2020 on sick pay, business rates relief and grants for small and medium-sized businesses, and a hardship fund for local authorities to support vulnerable residents.
The Council will hold urgent discussions with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to understand how residents and businesses will receive support.
Find out about the virus and how to protect yourself. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/
Read what you need to know about coronavirus (COVID-19). https://publichealthmatters.blog.gov.uk/2020/01/23/wuhan-novel-coronavirus-what-you-need-to-know/
Read Public Health England’s guidance for employers and businesses. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19
Adult social care
Adult Social Care spending in Hackney has increased by a further £4.2m compared to last year – largely due to additional costs and increased numbers resulting from service users being discharged from hospital with more complex needs.
These pressures will be partially offset by the proposed 2% rise in Council Tax to directly contribute to adult social care and additional one-off funding for social care announced by the Government, but this additional revenue is significantly below the additional cost pressures forecast and does not provide a sustainable settlement for social care. Although we have delivered £30m in savings over the last nine years, we’ll spend £108m this year alone.
The Government must address the fundamental issue of how to fund social care by the forthcoming full Spending Review. With the Adult Social Care Green Paper having been delayed five times over the last two years, a sustainable long-term solution is long overdue.
Special Educational Needs and Disabilities
As a Council, Hackney has been long been raising concerns with the Government about the SEND funding crisis. In the past we referred to it as a ‘hidden crisis’, but over the last few years, councils across the country have reached breaking point and have joined our calls for the funding of SEND to be reformed.
Despite our pleas, when the Government announced extra funding for SEND last year, they allocated us a further £4m – about half of the extra funding we need. So far, we’ve found this money by making savings elsewhere, using reserves, one-off grants and moving money from other education funds, but we can’t keep doing that.
The Chancellor announced no new SEND funding in today’s Budget.