Chris Mahony 19 October 2021

Sunak urged to tackle backlogs in public services or face greater costs

Sunak urged to tackle backlogs in public services or face greater costs image

Chancellor Rishi Sunak must swiftly invest in public services hit hardest by the pandemic or face much greater costs down the line, a report has warned.

In a briefing days before next week’s Spending Review, the Institute for Government think-tank and Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) highlighted adult social care, children’s social care, schools and neighbourhood services as among nine sectors with massive backlogs or financial challenges.

The so-called performance tracker said that, although Government spending on public services rose by £155bn across the UK in 2020-21 and 2021-22, local authorities and schools were among the services that ‘did not receive enough money to cover their extra costs’.

It said that, as a result, they have entered the recovery in a worse financial position and face even tighter funding squeezes over the next two years.

The report added that, as some departmental budgets continue to enjoy protection, the money left for other ‘unprotected’ public services will be 2.3% lower in real terms in 2022-23 than 2020-21 and 1.5% lower in 2023-24.

Nearly half of councils (46%) were forced to dip into their reserves last year.

Referrals to children’s social care were 11% down on the recent average between April 2020 and July 2021, which the paper said suggested councils have been unable to identify, assess and support children as quickly as normal.

Chief executive officer of CIPFA, Rob Whiteman, said: ‘This year’s performance tracker paints a stark picture: many public services are effectively out of reach for millions of people across England, amid an alarming increase in the cost of maintaining services at current levels.

'Today’s unprecedented backlogs show the immense pressure that COVID-19 has placed on public services over the past year-and-a-half, on top of the existing cost and demand pressures felt in previous years.

‘The pandemic’s disruption to services has taught us how to be more digital, how to lower certain costs and, perhaps, most importantly, the importance of preventative services.

'A more comprehensive plan – one that transforms services based on the lessons we’ve recently learned – in addition to realistic levels of further government funding, is critical to getting public services back on track and running sustainably.’

For your free daily news bulletin
Highways jobs

DLO Joiner/ Carpenter

Lambeth Council
£32,301 per annum
We offer a challenging, yet exciting opportunity to work within a brand new Direct Delivery service carrying... Lambeth, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Lambeth Council

Interim Change Project Officer

Lambeth Council
£35,067 inclusive LW
We are looking for a pro-active, dynamic and resilient individual with relevant skills and experiences to support management in... Lambeth, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Lambeth Council

Parking & Licensing Officer

Lambeth Council
£29,544 - £30,618 per annum
Are you a creative thinker who can deliver the best possible service to our citizens? Lambeth, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Lambeth Council

Covid Warden

Lambeth Council
£32,301 - £33,474 per annum
We have an exciting opportunity for  individuals who are passionate about their community. Lambeth, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Lambeth Council

Planner (Policy)

Lambeth Council
£34,689 – £37,491
This is an exciting opportunity to join Lambeth’s Policy and Place-shaping team and support the Council’s ambitious Planning service as... Lambeth, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Lambeth Council

Public Property

Latest issue - Public Property News

This issue of Public Property examines how how flexible workspaces can lead the way in regeneration for local authorities, Why local authority intervention is key to successful urban regeneration schemes and if the Government’s challenge of embracing beauty is an opportunity for communities.

The March issue also takes a closer look at Blackburn with Darwen Council's first digital health hub to help people gain control over health and care services.

Register for your free digital issue