Former chair of the Local Government Association, Lord Beecham, has launched a scathing attack on chancellor Philip Hammond’s Budget plan – arguing it does little to help councils tackle crises in housing, social care and children’s services.
During a post-Budget debate in the House of Lords, Lord Beecham, former Labour leader of Newcastle City Council, accused the Conservative government of overseeing a ‘shocking’ situation in which ‘the fifth richest economy in the world is failing to meet the needs of its people’ by providing appropriate local public services.
‘In the fifty years I have been privileged to serve as a local councillor, I have never known such unrelenting and damaging pressure on crucially important local services which this Budget, like its predecessors in the last seven years, has failed to adequately address,’ he said.
With councils facing a shortfall of £1.3bn in adult social care alone, Lord Beecham chastised the chancellor for failing to announce any further financial support for social care in his recent Budget.
‘Astonishingly, no mention was made in the Budget for increased funding in this crucial area, in which the Spring Budget’s £2bn over three years is a one-off sum.’
He also warned that evidence suggests that much of the Spring Budget cash for social care is ‘going to an over-stretched NHS for capital funding’ for Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships.
On housing, Lord Beecham warned the Budget measures would contribute only to 10,000 new homes – despite the Budget being pitched as focused on house-building.