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Warning of ‘catastrophic’ social care cuts if councils face virus funding gap

PUBLISHED: 18:28 15 May 2020 | UPDATED: 18:28 15 May 2020

The Unison organised lobby at County Hall against cuts in adult social care services.
Photo by Simon Finlay

The Unison organised lobby at County Hall against cuts in adult social care services. Photo by Simon Finlay

Archant Norfolk Copyright

Social care services could face “catastrophic” funding cuts if a £10bn gap in councils’ funding is not filled, it has been warned.

The Labour Party has said social care services could face 21pc funding cuts if the government fails to support councils through the aftermath of the pandemic.

Local authorities face a £10bn coronavirus funding black hole, which could see £3.5bn worth of cuts to adult social care this year.

Labour’s analysis has revealed authorities face making 21pc budget cuts to social care services.

READ MORE: ‘Disappointed’ - council slammed for ‘backslapping’ over coronavirus response

Funding gaps could also see £2bn in cuts to children’s social services and £700m in cuts to public heath budgets nationwide.

Other key services at risk could include libraries, parks, children’s centres, leisure centres, gritting, road safety and street lights.

Shadow communities secretary Steve Reed said: “When the government promised to stand behind councils through this crisis Labour supported them.

“Ministers are breaking that promise, leaving councils with a £10bn black hole. Government should change course, now.”

READ MORE: ‘We’re last on the heap’ - council urged to forego disabled adults’ care charges rise

Clive Lewis, Labour MP for Norwich South, added: “Adult social care and the NHS are inextricably linked. It should not be the public paying the price.”

And Steve Morphew, leader of the Labour group at the county council, added: “If government doesn’t fill this funding hole, what was a coming crisis could turn into a catastrophe.

“It’s taking away what’s left of the capacity to respond when there is a crisis like this. It would be a catastrophic mistake.”

Steffan Aquarone, Liberal Democrat group leader, said: “We’re now paying the price for the fact the government has not sorted out social care nationally.

READ MORE: County Hall reveals combating coronavirus has left it facing £19m shortfall

“Coronavirus has made council savings targets impossible and undermined budget planning.”

But Andrew Jamieson, Norfolk County Council cabinet member for finance, said while the council was facing a £19m shortfall, it would “continue to support vulnerable people and communities during this crisis”.

He added: “I will continue to engage positively with the government to ensure they know about our needs in Norfolk.”

A ministry of local government spokesman said councils had been given an “unprecedented package of support” and added: “We will continue to work closely with councils to develop an ongoing assessment of costs as they support their communities through this national emergency.”

READ MORE: Councillor pledges not to cut services despite £4m coronavirus hit


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