Release Date: 20 December 2017
The Leader of Richmond Council has expressed his disappointment at yesterday’s Local Government Finance Settlement – which yet again does not acknowledge the pressures on children’s services and adult social care – “passing the buck onto the Richmond taxpayer”.
The settlement, announced by the Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government, offers no further national support from Government for pressures felt locally on children’s services and adult social care, which are the Council’s two biggest areas of spend.
Instead of additional funding for these two areas, councils are expected to increase Council Tax levels to cover escalating costs.
Historically, under successive Governments, Richmond upon Thames has always been poorly funded. This continued with a four year Finance Settlement in 2016 which resulted in Richmond losing its Government General Grant by 2018/19. In addition, in 2019/20, the Council has to repay approximately £7m back to the Government. This continues to leave Richmond as the lowest funded Council in London.
Next year’s Government Finance Settlement has left the borough with approximately £105 per resident, this is £133 lower than the outer London Average.
Despite the Council lobbying the Government, Richmond also continues to receive a poor allocation of the Additional Better Care Fund over the next three years. This funding is specifically targeted at Adult Social Care. Richmond only receives only £5 per resident over the three years, compared to an outer London Average of £59.
Overall, the Council’s budget remains under severe pressure with no respite from reductions in Government grant. The Council expects it will need to find at least a further £20m by 2021, despite having joined up staff with Wandsworth Council, saving £10m.
Cllr Paul Hodgins said:
“This settlement does not solve our problems and ultimately passes the buck onto our already unfairly funded local taxpayer.
“We are lobbying the Government intensively. We have been making progress and we do believe that they acknowledge the problem and understand that we receive a raw deal. However, they have not yet provided the solution.
“It is complicated to solve. But, the fact is Richmond residents do not receive fair funding from the Government, particularly compared to our neighbouring boroughs. We should our residents have to pay more?
“We are seeing more and more demand on Children’s Services, but there is no new money. The cost of providing services, including those for children looked after and Special Educational Needs has sky rocketed. These are priority services for those most in need. We need the Government to urgently review this funding.
“In addition, we are an ageing borough. Our highest spend is on social care. It pays for services for our most elderly and vulnerable residents. As our borough ages, so our social care costs rise.
“In short, an injection of new money from central government is the only way to protect the vital services which protects children, supports families, cares for our older and disabled residents.
“The settlement also confirms that over the next four years we will continue to see a 66% cut in our remaining Revenue Support Grant. The age of austerity in local government is certainly set to continue.
“We are determined to continue to deliver high quality, front line services. But, we must be innovative. We must continue to look at our services, work with a range of community organisations and groups to find new ways to deliver services that help limit the impact of these Government-imposed cuts as far as possible.
“I don’t think we can continue to pass this problem on to local people for much longer. We will continue to lobby the Government and do everything within our control to minimise the impact on the Richmond upon Thames Council Tax payer.”
If you are a journalist and would like further information about this press release, contact Elinor Firth on 020 8487 5159.
Updated: 29 December 2017