COUNCILS in England could have to make cuts of as much as 20 per cent to bin collections and social care to balance budgets hit badly by the coronavirus crisis.
Social care funding could face a short fall of £3.5bn as income streams dry up across the country.
Analysis by the Labour Party has claimed local authorities are facing a £10bn black hole in their budgets according to The Guardian.
Leader of Islington council in north London Richard Watts said they will inevitably have to make cuts to their £90million social care budget.
He said: “Social care accounts for just over half of what councils spend so it’s inescapable that if you take that much out of the budget you’ll have to look at social care.”
“I rather suspect you could shut almost everything else, switch to one monthly bin collections and the figures are so big you would still have to go into social care.”
As many as 225,000 adult social care places could be put at risk.
Atleast 178 would be long-term care places, according to Labour’s analysis.
The Government announced earlier this week a further £600million for care homes to develop their coronavirus infection control plans – on top of £3.2billion already given to councils in the last two months.
Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said yesterday: “I said we would stand behind councils and give them the funding they need and we are doing exactly that.”
Chair of the Local Government Association (LGA) and Conservative leader of central Bedfordshire council James Jamieson estimated councils will face costs of nearly £13bn.
But income streams – such as parking tickets have almost dried up entirely.
There has also been a massive reduction in council tax as thousands of people claimed universal credit.
Business rates and rents from commercial properties have also been drastically cut to help businesses stay afloat during the lockdown.
Labour’s analysis shows that if local authorities did not make cuts to their social care budgets they would have to close all libraries, children’s and leisure centres, stop all spending on parks, turn off all street lights, carry out no winter gritting, end all planning and building control work.
“Social care is largely funded by councils up and down the country, and makes up a huge proportion of our spending.
“We have a legal duty to balance budgets, so unless the funding gap is closed then cuts are inevitable.
“Councils have been trying to care for more people with less money every year for a decade, but unless the government acts there is only so much councils will be able to do to protect those most in need.”
A local authority source said budgets set for this year have effectively been “ripped up”.
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said: “We’re giving councils an unprecedented package of support, including £3.2bn emergency funding, to tackle the immediate pressures they have told us they’re facing.
“This is on top of English councils’ core spending power rising by over £2.9bn this financial year and today we announced a further £600m to help reduce the infection rate in care homes.
“The government will continue to work closely with councils as the pandemic progresses to develop an ongoing assessment of costs as they support their communities through this national emergency.”
The Department said councils will be allowed to defer £2.6bn in business rates payments to central government and that they have been given £850m in social care grants upfront in April.