Last week it was a new Chancellor, but the outcome of the autumn statement for Local Authorities was more of the same; cuts, under funding and in some areas complete disdain.
He hid behind Brexit to continue to make cuts to vital services and the poorest. Councils, the NHS, charities and care providers have been clear about the desperate need for the Chancellor to take action to tackle the funding crisis in social care. It is unacceptable that this has not been addressed in the Autumn Statement, the fact that care for our vulnerable adults, friends and neighbours did not even receive a mention gives away far more about Philip Hammond, his policies and priorities, than he may have wanted.
Social care is not always at the front of our minds when we have to contend with our day to day lives, unless a loved one is affected. Tragically if the underfunding continues the human cost of this will be the elderly and vulnerable having to face an ever more uncertain future where they may no longer receive the dignified care and support they deserve. This will not only affect our parents and grandparents who may need this service, but will also mean further pressures on the straining NHS. It is impossible for the NHS to be feasible without a feasible adult social care system.
The Conservative Government in its four year spending plan for Local Authorities has placed an expectation on council tax rises every year to plug the gap, but this is merely a temporary measure and will not bring in enough money to alleviate the pressure. Redbridge is doing its utmost in light of these pressures by trying to stretch budgets, find efficiencies and being innovative through changing our service delivery and use of technology but it is clear that the Governments’ direction of travel will eventually lead to service reduction.
The next few years will continue to be extremely challenging for councils, nationally it is estimated there will be a £6 billion funding gap by 2020. It’s been said that even if councils stopped the services we expect such as filling potholes, street lighting, maintaining parks and open spaces, closed all children's centres and amenities like libraries and leisure centers, we would still not plug this gap.
All councils are facing difficult decisions, about which services are reduced or stopped altogether, but the Labour administration in Redbridge is not going to take this assault from the Tory Government lying down, we are proposing a significant development and investment into the town centre to bring business, jobs, homes and culture into the Borough. We will invest in leisure facilities that are designed to improve our environment but also largely pay for themselves, and in social and affordable housing to improve the lives of residents who are forced to live in substandard accommodation. In addition we will invest in our schools to continue to improve the life chances of our children and importantly the enforcement and cleansing teams are being provided with the tools to carry out their duties more effectively. Redbridge will not stand still and allow an impotent and uncaring Government to continue to attack us, but residents need to play a part by getting involved in local democracy and projects and importantly writing to their MPs to ensure they keep on pressing Government to adequately fund local services.