Council staff warn of vital local services collapsing

UNISON has reported that local government spending cuts have left councils unable to meet the needs of local communities and, in some cases, are putting the public at risk.

A survey of 21,000 local government employees working across all services, carried out by the union, has found that 79 per cent of council workers have no confidence in the future of local services, and 50 per cent are thinking of leaving their jobs for less stressful work elsewhere. Worryingly, 67 per cent reported that residents don’t receive help and support when they need it, whilst 54 per cent are not confident vulnerable residents are safe and cared for.

A recent National Audit Office report revealed that government funding for local authorities in England has fallen by an estimated 49 per cent in real terms since 2010-11. The UNISON’s survey reveals that 83 per cent feel these cuts have had a negative impact on their ability to do the job as well as they can.

Council workers identified a lack of front line staff (64 per cent), adult social care (61 per cent), safeguarding children and young people (47 per cent), a lack of housing options (44 per cent) and road repairs (41 per cent) as the biggest challenges facing local authorities. Additionally, 63 per cent are concerned about the financial situation of their council.

Dave Prentis, UNISON general secretary, said: “Local services are collapsing and council workers are being left to pick up the pieces and do the best they can amid the chaos. This disturbing survey should ring alarm bells in Whitehall and also alert ministers to the crisis happening in councils up and down the country.

“Local authorities have had to cut so many vital services that they have now reached a point where vulnerable children and the elderly struggle to get the help that they need, entire communities are suffering, and the public are being put at risk. With cuts to road and bridge maintenance, potholes in roads are left unfilled, and bridges are at risk of crumbling. Crematoriums are not maintained, streetlights stay broken, and parks are in disrepair as councils don’t have the equipment or the staff to adequately maintain them. There are now over one million people with an unmet need for social care because councils don’t have the resources to support them. Now is the time to reverse these cuts and invest in local government once more or the very fabric of our society will come unstuck.”

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