Councillors lined up to hit out at the Conservative Government after they were left with ‘no choice’ to bail out of Doncaster’s children services.
Cabinet members signed off on a £6 million loan package on Tuesday to Doncaster Children’s Services Trust – an ‘arms-length management organisation’ (ALMO) – who cite rising demand for the overspend increase.
Mayor Ros Jones and three other cabinet members all criticised the Government and Theresa May specifically who said recently that ‘austerity was over’.
She said the Government needs to provide ‘shed loads more money’ to back up the statement and said the council would be lobbying ministers prior to the Autumn budget announcement on funding for children and adults.
The meeting heard the council has lost over £800 million in Government grants which equates to around 50 per cent of all centralised money.
Mayor Jones said ‘60 per cent’ of council spending goes towards looking after vulnerable children and adults and called on the Government to ‘stop failing Doncaster residents’.
Councillors heard a rise in council tax would be a ‘drop in the ocean’ as 70 per cent of borough properties fall into band A.
Documents show DCST has no reserves left to meet any of the deficit despite a prior arrangement where the trust would harbour 30 per cent of all liabilities.
But that agreement has not been scrapped with Doncaster Council now footing 100 per cent of the bill.
The money is being pulled from two separate budgets to address the shortfall.
Mayor Jones said: “Theresa May has said austerity is over – it’s time that she comes forward with a plan to adequately fund children and adults social services going forward before more councils go bust because as a local authority, we do not have the resources to continue to make considerable cuts to other non-statutory services.
“We have a statutory responsibility and a duty of care to the children of Doncaster. We have no choice but to provide the funding.
“It is the right thing to do but we will be lobbying the Government prior to the budget so they can back up the statement that austerity is over.
“Unless they come forward with shed loads of money – austerity is not over.”
Thorne & Moorends Coun Joe Blackham said: “Theresa May says it’s the end of austerity but yet at the same time there’s a another 36 per cent reduction in support grants this coming year – it’s a total contradiction and the reality is austerity is not over and there is no prospect of austerity being over.
“It would have to be a complete turnaround by central government and no sane person could believe for a moment that’s likely to happen.
Conisbrough & Denaby Coun Nigel Ball added: “If Theresa May is serious about her position on austerity – she needs to be very clear in terms of how local authorities are adequately funded.
Armthorpe Coun Chris McGuinness said: “If we talk about dealing with ongoing Government cuts while facing an increase in demand, the biggest single reason for that is because of the Government cuts in the first place and we shouldn’t lose sight of that.”