Are the most significant council budget cuts in deprived areas?

19 May 2017
What was claimed

Deprived areas are facing the most significant cuts to adult social care budgets.

Our verdict

Council spending on adult social care hasn’t reduced on average as steeply as for some other services, but the reductions have been highest in areas with the greatest need, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

What was claimed

Deprived areas are facing the most significant council cuts.

Our verdict

Councils that are most dependent on government grants—those which are poorest or in inner London—have seen their budgets reduced by more than other councils between 2009/10 and 2016/17.

“It's the actual deprived areas ... that are facing the most significant cuts through council cuts”.
Angela Rayner MP, 18 May 2017

We’ve asked the Labour party if Ms Rayner was referring to council spending on adult social care or council’s overall budgets here. But in either case, there’s evidence that poorer councils are in a worse position compared to more well-off areas.

Reductions in council budgets in England have been larger for “poorer, more grant-dependent councils than their richer neighbours”, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS). It says that, overall, councils in England have seen their budgets reduced by an 26% in real-terms between 2009/10 and 2016/17, excluding specific grants for education.

The largest reductions have been in inner-London or in other poor areas throughout England which are more reliant on government grants. On average the 10% of councils who are most grant-reliant had to reduce their spending on services by 33% over this time. The 10% who are least grant-reliant have reduced service spending by around 9% on average.

Ms Rayner seems to have been speaking about adult social care and older people when she made this comment.

The majority of a council’s budget is not ring-fenced so it chooses which services to prioritise and spend its resources on. Council spending on adult social care in England decreased by almost 17% between 2009/10 and 2015/16. But if you include the money they get from the NHS, the decrease is much less—around 6%.

Social care spending hasn’t seen falls as steep as other services. As with overall councils budgets, these spending reductions have been greatest in the areas where “spending, and needs, were previously highest”.

Councils were given powers to raise money specifically for adult social care from council taxes, but the King’s Fund health think tank has said that the poorest councils will be able to raise least, even though they have the greatest need for social care. There has also been more money given to councils from the government specifically for adult social care, though experts have warned that more is needed.

The IFS has said that the money being made available could allow spending on adult social care to return to 2009/10 levels, but it will still be lower per person, because of increases in the population.

Full Fact fights bad information

Bad information ruins lives. It promotes hate, damages people’s health, and hurts democracy. You deserve better.