One in three LAs could run out of child protection cash

Councils are ‘completely in the dark’ about their funding for next year, the Local Government Association warns

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Councils' children's services are at risk because local authorities across the country are short of funding, the Local Government Association has warned

One in three councils fears it may run out of funding to provide child protection services and other legal duties, according to new findings from the Local Government Association (LGA).

Between March and June 2019, the LGA conducted a survey (which 141 of 339 LGA-member councils responded to) into council finances ahead of the next government spending review.

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The survey reveals that one in three councils fears it will run out of funding to deliver children's services and other statutory services by 2022-23. This rises to almost two-thirds of councils by 2024-25.

The survey also shows that approximately a fifth of councils are "not confident of realising all of the savings they have identified to make this year" (2019-20).

Council children's services 'at risk'

An unparalleled increase in demand for children’s services and other statutory duties has left councils with no choice but to make in-year budget cuts in an attempt to balance their books.

The LGA also warned that Brexit uncertainty means that it looks unlikely that the government will conduct its three-year spending review this year.

Lord Porter, the LGA chairman, said: “Councils in England face a funding gap of more than £3 billion next year, rising to £8 billion by 2025.

“As this survey shows, if the government fails to adequately fund local government, there is a real risk to the future financial viability of some services and councils.

“Councils would normally have started their budget-setting planning process but remain completely in the dark about how much funding they will have next year. Communities relying on the vital local services that make a difference to their lives deserve better.”

He also stressed how ensuring the financial sustainability of local government must take priority in the next prime minister’s agenda.

“With the right funding and powers, councils can continue to lead their local areas, improve residents’ lives, reduce demand for services and save money for the taxpayer," the chairman added.

The survey findings were published as more than 1,400 local government leaders, councillors and ministers were due to meet for the LGA annual conference at the Bournemouth International Centre today.

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