‘Fill gaping social care funding holes, not potholes’: Hackney Mayor Philip Glanville responds to government’s 2020 Budget
PUBLISHED: 15:30 13 March 2020 | UPDATED: 15:30 13 March 2020
Hackney’s elected mayor Philip Glanville has urged the Chancellor to focus on filling “gaping holes” in frontline public services, rather than just potholes in the road.
His comments come after the 2020 Budget delivered by Rishi Sunak in the House of Commons on Wednesday, which included a provision of £2.5 billion to repair potholes.
While Mr Glanville welcomed measures to support vulnerable residents, workers and small businesses through the coronavirus pandemic, he said that the budget's wider proposals demonstrate that while the government claims the 'decade of austerity is over, it is clearly not'.
'By 2022, Hackney will have lost more than half of its core funding from central government - the biggest cut per household of any London borough,' said Mr Glanville, who warned vital public services are being stretched to breaking point.
'Yet today there was no mention of the huge funding gaps in places like Hackney to deliver adult social care or provide support for children with special educational needs.
'Rather than just focusing on filling in potholes, the Chancellor should focus on filling the gaping holes in frontline public services.'
The council's adult social care spending has increased by £4.2m this year, apparently due to additional costs and increased numbers of service users being discharged from hospital with more complex needs.
The pressures will be partially offset by a two per cent rise in council tax, but the additional revenue is 'significantly below' the additional cost pressures forecast, and does not provide a sustainable settlement for social care according to the council.
Mr Glanville said the government must address how to fund social care in its forthcoming full spending review.
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'With the adult social care green paper having been delayed five times over the last two years, a sustainable long-term solution is long overdue,' he said.
The Chancellor announced no new funding for special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).
'Despite our pleas, when the government announced extra funding for SEND last year, they allocated us a further £4m - about half of the extra funding we need,' said Mr Glanville.
'So far, we've found this money by making savings elsewhere, using reserves, one-off grants and moving money from other education funds, but we can't keep doing that,' he warned.
The government did make a series of announcements on sick pay, business rates relief and grants for small and medium-sized businesses in terms of the current coronavirus pandemic, and announced a hardship fund would be set up for local authorities to support vulnerable residents.
The council will now hold urgent discussions with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to understand how residents and businesses will receive support.
The government has said it will fund the removal of dangerous cladding from all high-rise buildings, but Mr Glanville said the funding promised does not go far enough.
'The £1 billion announced will likely only scratch the surface of what is required, and thousands of leaseholders remain unable to secure mortgages on their homes,' he said.
'And while, as I argued at the Communities and Local Government Select Committee on Monday, we welcome the announcement of additional funding for housebuilding and the reversal of the counterproductive increase in the Public Works Loan Board rate, the devil will be in the detail.
'The announcements were yet again a sticking plaster instead of the long-term reforms, devolution and freedom that local authorities need if they are to continue to deliver frontline services to our most vulnerable residents.'