On March 18th several government ministers, including Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government Robert Jenrick MP, provided assurances that they would make sure the government provides “whatever funding is needed for councils to get through this and come out the other side.” However they have now rowed back on those plans, with Jenrick telling MPs that councils should not “labour under a false impression” that all costs would be reimbursed, provoking widespread anger amongst local government leaders and MPs.
New analysis shows that crippling cuts that will be forced on key frontline services including adult social care in York if the Government breaks its funding promises. Any backtrack could result in more than 600 York residents losing care support for the year, as well as many more across the Yorkshire and Humber region.
Councils are by far the largest funder of adult social care in England, yet now face a £10bn Coronavirus black hole, forcing cuts across the board, indicating a £3.5bn cut to adult social care this year alone. Based on 2019/20 budget estimates, local authorities’ Coronavirus-related income losses, and adult social care budget data from the Kings Fund and Department for Health and Social Care, if the £10bn Coronavirus black hole for local authorities goes unfunded by Government, as well as the cut to adult social care, we could see a £2bn cut to children’s services and a £700m cut to public health budgets (based on 21% cuts across all council budgets).
In Yorkshire and the Humber this equates to 23,155 fewer or significantly reduced adult social care places, and a reduction or scaling back of at least 618 places in York itself. Councillor Danny Myers, leader of the Labour Group on the council, expressed his concerns with this situation.
“These figures are grim reading for York. There has been a tremendous strain on our carers through this coronavirus outbreak; our families, neighbours and friends who rely on care need our care workers to be fully supported in their work, and crucially, not to be abandoned by Government at this time.
“Over 600 vulnerable people losing care across our city would be a hammer blow. As Labour Group Leader on City of York Council, my team and I will continue to do everything we can to shield those most in need from these cuts, but the reality is that if Ministers suck another £10bn out of councils’ budgets – on top of years of cuts and under-investment – then frontline services will bear the brunt and our community will suffer.
“The Government promised to stand by councils through this crisis, but we can see and hear that the words being used by Ministers are changing to an unwillingness from Government to fully cover the costs incurred by councils.
“This would be a disaster for social care, and if providers are forced out of business, we will sadly again see a Government failing the very people who are at the coal-face, putting their lives on the line to get us through this crisis. The clapping from the doorsteps of Downing Street will sound hollower still.”