New research reveals that four in every five County Councils in the UK say they face financial insolvency next year if there is no additional support in the upcoming Autumn Statement.
Just one in five councils in the County Councils Network (CCN) survey, said that they’re confident that insolvency could be prevented.
The CCN survey drew a huge 90 per cent response rate from its membership of 36 County authorities.
“Councils are grappling with £3.5 billion of additional costs this year and next year due to inflation and rising demand – more than double the expected rise,” say the CCN.
The survey revealed that two-thirds of the Councils say that it’s ‘likely or very likely’ that they will pause or cancel some economic growth and major road projects as well as routine road maintenance.
Most said that it is ‘likely or very likely’ that they will need to tighten eligibility for adults social care services and reduce reablement and community-based adult social care services.
Nearly two-thirds said they would scale back school transport services, and nearly a half said they are ‘likely or very likely’ to have to cut support packages for young people with special educational needs.
A similar number said that they will need to reduce the number of children’s centres and youth services.
Bus route subsidies, streetlighting, library provision and recycling centre opening times are also ‘likely or very likely’ to be impacted, for most councils.
And action on climate change is ‘likely or very likely’ to have to be scaled back.
“Everything is on the table,” says the CCN as councils attempt to balance their books – a legal requirement for Councils.
We said last week that deep cuts to vital services are inevitable unless the Government provides more support.
Our Leader, Cllr John Hart, said:
“I have been a county councillor for more than 30 years and Leader of the council for nearly 14 years, during which time we have been through austerity years and the pandemic. But our financial situation has never been so bleak as it is now.”
Surging demand for help and support for vulnerable children and adults, the continuing costs of the pandemic, and the dramatic rise in costs and inflation, leave Devon County Council needing to make £73 million savings this financial year, and it expects to have to make an additional £75 million saving next financial year.
“Today’s survey from the CCN demonstrates that we are not alone, and that the predicament we find in Devon is reflected time and again across this country, impacting on vital public services relied upon by millions including the most vulnerable in our communities,” says Cllr Hart.
“We need the Chancellor and the Prime Minister to produce an economic recovery plan that is balanced, fair and equitable. And crucially, one that does not single out local government for cuts.”