Capital spending boost but social care is ignored

29 November 2016

Last week’s Autumn Statement promised extra funding for housing and transport but no relief for social care budgets and a gloomy prognosis for the public finances.

Michael Burton looks at the detail of the chancellor’s statement as it affects local government while Sam Clayden (below) reports on the briefing afterwards by the Institute for Fiscal Studies

For local government, the Autumn Statement was a non-event. In one sense, because budgets were agreed in last year’s Spending Review and most councils are in a four year settlement, this was little surprise. What was a shock however was the complete absence of any announcement about the ballooning costs of social care despite an avalanche of reports from healthcare and local authority associations calling for more cash.

As this budget black hole is forecast to reach £5.8bn by 2020, it raises the question as to the accuracy of chancellor Philip Hammond’s already gloomy wider forecasts for the public finances over the next five years. Sir Stephen Houghton, chair of the Special Interest Group of Municipal Authorities (SIGOMA) said: ‘In the 30 minutes of prime minister’s questions immediately preceding the Autumn Statement, the prime minister fielded one question after another about the teetering care system, yet this did not feature at all in the chancellor’s statement.’

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