The Better Care Fund (BCF) in its current form has ‘come to the end of it’s life’, the chief executive of the Local Government Association has claimed.
Addressing chief executives at The MJ’s Future Forum North event today, Mark Lloyd rebuked the ‘top down nature’ of the BCF and the Improved BCF and urged colleagues to join in discussions next week on where to go next.
Mr Lloyd also drew colleagues’ attention to the dire state of council finances, pointing to analysis by the Office of Budgetary Responsibility, which showed councils with adult and children’s social care responsibilities were increasingly over spending.
The figures showed councils were increasingly having to dip into their reserves to fill a funding gap – a trend Mr Lloyd said was ‘only going to continue’.
He said: ‘We are in a really perilous position as local government.’
On Universal Credit, Mr Lloyd said the concessions made in the Budget around the timetable of the rollout were welcome but did not go far enough.
Touching on the housing announcements in the Budget allowing areas of ‘high demand’ to bid for the opportunity to borrow to build, Mr Lloyd said councils had to take the lead in defining what ‘high demand’ meant.
Following yesterday’s news that the Government was ‘minded to’ agree district mergers in Suffolk and Somerset, Mr Lloyd said he did not envision a round of government imposed reorganisation.
However, he said this latest announce, combined with the announcements for Dorset and East Suffolk, proved the Government was open to bids where there was local agreement.
Mr Lloyd added that he was interested to see communities secretary Sajid Javid’s decision on proposals in Buckinghamshire, which does not have complete local support. He said he expected an announcement ‘before we sit down to eat our turkey’.