Parliamentary briefing: Adequacy of funding for local authorities during the COVID-19 outbreak
- Local authorities are under significant strain following years of budget cuts which have a direct impact on social care, public health and those community services commissioned by local authorities. The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the impact of prolonged underinvestment in these interdependent services
- Although short-term funding boosts are necessary for local authorities to stabilise the social care sector over winter, they must be accompanied by steps towards long-term investment in key services provided, or commissioned, by councils and radical reform to place social care on a sustainable footing. Failure to do so will leave more people unnecessarily dependent on NHS care, placing extra demand on already stretched services and leading to poorer outcomes for the most vulnerable in society
- Some community health service providers have reported that local authorities have begun retendering their contracts or making in-year cuts as part of their efforts to balance their books. We understand the legal requirements on local authorities to balance their books, but we do not believe that this is beneficial activity for patients or staff in the middle of a pandemic. We have therefore urged the government to fund local authorities properly such that they are not pushed into such decisions, and to implement a national pause on tendering of NHS community health and public health services during COVID-19
- Cuts to local government funding in recent years have put councils under significant financial pressure. Recent figures from the Local Government Association (LGA) estimate that councils could face a funding gap of £5.3 billion by 2023/24 which could increase to £9.8 billion due to uncertainty around the impact of COVID-19.