Local authorities in the poorest areas of England have seen the biggest cuts to services for disadvantaged people, which risks trapping councils in a ‘downward spiral’, a report has warned.
According to analysis by the New Policy Institute for the Lloyds Bank Foundation ‘almost the entire burden’ of reduced disadvantage spend has been in the most deprived fifth of all councils, including metropolitan and urban areas in the North and Midlands, as well as London boroughs and coastal districts.
Disadvantage spend, which includes support for vulnerable families, looked-after children and the homeless, has fallen despite rising demand for support, the report said.
‘Spending on services for those facing disadvantage has fallen 2% in real terms since 2011/12,’ it said. ‘Within this total, spending on disadvantage in child social care has risen by 5%, spending on disadvantage in adult social care has fallen 2%, and spending on disadvantage in housing has fallen by 13%.’
A Quiet Crisis Local government spending on disadvantage in England said there needs to be an ‘urgent debate’ about how services can deliver support on reduced revenues to help protect vulnerable people.
Councils spent around £17bn on services for people facing disadvantage in 2016/17. The largest category of spending was adult social care at £9.5bn, while for looked-after children it was £4.4bn.
The Department for Health and Social Care has provided an additional £9.4bn in the past three years for adult social care and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has made £200bn available to councils for services, including those for children and young people.
Despite this Paul Streets (pictured), Lloyds Bank Foundation chief executive, said the research uncovered a ‘quiet crisis’.
He said: ‘Councils have been trying to do more with less for some years, but the tipping point is increasingly close with deprived areas hit hardest. It cannot be right that the services you get if you are homeless or have a learning difficulty are dependent on the post-code lottery of the ability of your council to raise local taxes.’