Budget: Reaction round-up

THE SPRING BUDGET included an extra £2bn for social care over the next three years, a pledge to reform business rates revaluations, as well as measures to boost skills, ease congestion and boost devolution to London. LGE rounds up reaction to the Chancellor's announcements from local government and beyond.

Lord Porter, chairman of the Local Government Association

The announcement of £2bn for adult social care marks a significant step towards protecting the services caring for the most vulnerable in our communities over the next few years.

Councils must have full flexibility over how they use this funding to ensure it helps people live independently in their communities and surrounded by their families and friends and to provide support to older people and those with mental health conditions, learning and physical disabilities.

Adult social care is vital in its own right, as well as easing the pressure on the NHS. Councils want to give people the best possible chance of staying out of hospital and to get them home quickly if a hospital stay is necessary.

With local government facing an overall funding gap of £5.8 billion by 2020, all councils will need to make continued cutbacks to local services, including social care, over the next few years. As helpful as this announcement is, short-term pressures remain and the challenge of finding a long-term solution to the social care crisis is far from over.

The Government's commitment to publishing a Green Paper to explore options for a long-term solution is recognition of this but councils are clear that it cannot end up being kicked into the long grass like other social care reviews, inquiries, commissions and their recommendations have been in the past decade. With councils facing further funding pressures and growing demand for support by the end of the decade, this is the last chance we have to get this right.

For that to happen, local government leaders must play a fundamental part. All options must be on the table and it needs cross-party national support. This is the only way we will find a solution that ensures our future generations enjoy a care system which doesn't just help them out of bed and gets them washed and dressed but ensures they have dignified and fulfilling lives.


 

Jonathan Carr-West, chief executive of the LGiU

The good news is that the Government has listened to the local government sector and made more money available for social care. It's not nearly enough, of course, so the Government is right that this is a short-term measure and that we need more fundamental reform of care funding and delivery. 

The bad news is that the focus of this additional money makes that reform harder.

Social care is not just about freeing up hospital beds; it's about managing the overall wellbeing of the people who live in a place. That connects with health care but also with housing, keeping people healthy, management of public space and local economies. That's why social care can only be delivered by local bodies, not by national agencies.

So we need to fund local government to deliver social care but then we need to trust it to spend the money locally across the system in the ways that work best for that area. 


Cllr Paul Carter, leader of Kent County Council and chair of the County Councils Network

It is important to recognise that counties are under the most severe pressure for care services, yet are the lowest funded councils for social care. They have the largest and fastest growing elderly populations and they face additional costs in providing local services in rural locations. Over the long-term, we look forward to working with Government on their needs-based review to ensure fairer funding for county areas.

CCN also welcomes Government's willingness to work with the sector and wider health service to reduce delayed discharges. Government has rightly said this is an indication of pressure on local services. It is important that we recognise the multiple challenges to reducing delayed discharges, particularly in county areas, which are not necessarily a reflection of social care performance.

A commitment to long term reform is welcome, and we will actively engage with the Government’s forthcoming Green Paper. It is important that this paper provides clarity on the introduction of a cap on care and addresses sustainable funding options.


Cllr Ray Puddifoot MBC, executive member for adult social care at London Councils

We welcome Government's recognition of the depth of the crisis in adult social care and that this can only be tackled through urgent investment. We look forward to seeing the detail of what is proposed.

London has a growing population in need of adult social care services and there are massive pressures building up for the future. We also welcome therefore the announcement of a Green Paper addressing this issue.


Margaret Willcox, president-elect of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS)

We welcome this important step towards closing the growing gap in Government funding for adult social care.

We are keen to build a consensus on a long-term, sustainable solution about how we provide and pay for care for years to come, and we hope the Green Paper helps to achieve that.


Jonathan House, partner at PwC

With council finances under pressure and social care dominating spending, councils will need to think radically about their future strategy and service models.

The Chancellor's announcement that the Government will explore further options for the funding of social care is welcome. This can't be an issue that is kicked into the long grass. PwC's latest research shows that in the long term, the balance of power needs to be shifted to local areas so they assume greater accountability for financing and control of services - passing down funds to a local level which can be spent in a tailored way by leaders who understand the problems facing their own areas.


Andrew Jepp, managing director at Zurich Municipal

Despite a climate of austerity, local authorities have turned to new and innovative methods to drive down costs and maintain services at a level that the public expects. But the announcement of yet more cuts to public budgets, coming so soon after news that the Ogden rate will be revised down, places even more pressure on already stretched local authority budgets, forcing councils to take on new risks and find new ways to make ends meet.

While risk-taking is inevitable in this uncertain and difficult climate, it's essential that local authorities ensure that they have robust plans in place to minimise and mitigate the risks and threats that will materialise in the years ahead.

The Chancellor's announcements on additional funds for the devolved nations, discussions with the mayor of London on further powers for the capital and renewed commitment to metro-mayors will have been well received but councils will want to see concrete commitments to extend the Government's devolution agenda.

Overall, Mr Hammond's tone was one of continuation rather than dramatic change and this will have been welcomed by local authority leaders. But councils are dependent on growth to continue to deliver essential services. With the triggering of Article 50 likely to create more uncertainty and the slightly improved OBR projections on economic growth over the coming years, chiefs will be under no illusions that that there are more tough months and years to come.


Emily Holzhausen OBE, policy director at Carers UK

Social care services are vital to families who have been under increasing pressure to care for their disabled and older relatives.  This has significant costs and consequences for carers, their families and the economy.   Carers UK’s research shows around two million people have given up work to care for relatives. For one in three carers providing substantial care, their decision to give up work was due to a lack of affordable quality social care.   

Without this new funding, we feared that many more carers would have found themselves giving up work to care, many would have seen their health worsen, their relationships break down as they have less time for others, and families would end up in lasting poverty.  

However, there was nothing in the Budget to ease financial pressures on carers and no reversal of planned cuts to Employment & Support Allowance, which mean those in the work-related activity group stand to lose £30 a week.


Carolyn Fairbairn, director-general of the Confederation of British Industry

The Chancellor's recognition of the challenges posed by business rates through increased transitional relief for smaller businesses, is welcome.

But there is no immediate prospect of more frequent valuations, or broader relief from rising business rates in a world of higher inflation, which businesses were looking for.

Over the longer term, firms want to see a wider reform of business rates as part of the Chancellor's efforts to create a more modern tax system.


Tina Hallett, government and public sector leader at PwC

I am pleased that the Government has put productivity and inclusive growth at the heart of the Spring Budget, with a flagship additional investment of £500m in technical education for 16-19 year olds.

By investing in the pillars of good growth such as skills and infrastructure, the Chancellor has set a clear direction for a post-Brexit world.

The challenge is for the public and private sector to work together to stimulate growth in the regions and make sure no one is left behind. The size of the prize is significant with a £190bn "inclusivity gap" identified by the RSA's Inclusive Growth Commission.

Success needs to be judged in new ways. If the Government is to deliver growth that benefits everyone, health, housing and quality of life need to be put alongside jobs, skills and incomes, when we measure good growth, creating places where people want to live, work and prosper.


Paul Bradbury, executive director of business development at Civica

The additional £2bn investment over the next three years is a strong step in the right direction. However, although extremely important, it’s not just investment that is needed. If we are to manage the growing demand, ageing population and huge strain on local services in health and social care, it is new and technology-based ways of working that must go hand in hand with this funding.

Part of this is tied to collaborative ways of working, which the Government announced its support of in the Budget.

However, to make the most of such initiatives, organisations need to ensure that smart data and knowledge management is in place. An essential element of this will be innovating and making the transition to digital services. To do this, we not only need to ensure that modern technology is in place but that the employees are fully clued up and equipped with the knowledge to utilise them. Exploring pilots with the private sector to identify new ways of working will be invaluable. As we are living in the age of information, public sector services need to ensure they don’t fall behind and make the most of the opportunities and data available to them.


Tiffany Cloynes, partner and head of public services in England at Geldards 

The Budget announced some measures which recognised the need for local authorities to be able to respond to specific local conditions and needs. In principle, this is welcome but it remains to be seen whether the arrangements to implement these measures will enable local authorities to meet local needs effectively. For example, the announcements of £200m funding for local projects to bring private sector investment in full-fibre broadband networks and £690m for local authorities in England to tackle urban congestion gives potential for effective local projects. 

However, the fact that the £690m will be subject to a competition rather than simply being allocated on an assessment of need means that local authorities do not yet know how much funding they may be able to obtain for their transport projects. 

The availability of a fund to enable local authorities to grant discretionary relief from business rates is helpful in allowing local authorities to recognise the particular needs of businesses in their area but we will need to see details of the allocation formula to be sure how this will work in practice.  Also, while local authorities will be keen for businesses in their area to be able to operate successfully, the authorities themselves will still be faced with the challenge of obtaining sufficient income from business rates to enable them to manage their budgets.


Tiffany Cloynes, partner and head of public services in England at Geldards 

The Budget announced some measures which recognised the need for local authorities to be able to respond to specific local conditions and needs. In principle, this is welcome but it remains to be seen whether the arrangements to implement these measures will enable local authorities to meet local needs effectively. For example, the announcements of £200m funding for local projects to bring private sector investment in full-fibre broadband networks and £690m for local authorities in England to tackle urban congestion gives potential for effective local projects. 

However, the fact that the £690m will be subject to a competition rather than simply being allocated on an assessment of need means that local authorities do not yet know how much funding they may be able to obtain for their transport projects. 

The availability of a fund to enable local authorities to grant discretionary relief from business rates is helpful in allowing local authorities to recognise the particular needs of businesses in their area but we will need to see details of the allocation formula to be sure how this will work in practice.  Also, while local authorities will be keen for businesses in their area to be able to operate successfully, the authorities themselves will still be faced with the challenge of obtaining sufficient income from business rates to enable them to manage their budgets.