Budget squeeze to 'wipe out services'
FUNDING for vital services, including road maintenance, libraries and leisure, could be slashed by 90 per cent by 2020, it has been claimed.
The Local Government Association warns today that entire services could be "history" because of a £16 billion squeeze on budgets.
But one Bristol MP said he did not share the report's "apocalyptic" outlook.
The LGA, which represents the nation's councils, blamed the ageing population for ramping up the costs of social care, and said government spending cuts had "contributed considerably".
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Its report, based on "conservative" estimates following detailed financial analysis, warns that social services, waste collection and community transport – services councils legally have to provide – would "soak up" most of their budgets by 2020, leaving a "huge funding gap".
The rising cost of social care and waste services means that the money left for other services will shrink from £24.5 billion two years ago to £8.4 billion in 2019/20, it said.
The report, published today, said improved efficiency would not cover the shortfall in funds as more money was needed for statutory services.
LGA chairman Sir Merrick Cockell said: "By the end of the decade councils may be forced to wind down some of the most popular services they provide unless urgent action is taken to address the crisis in adult social care funding."
But Stephen Williams, left, the Liberal Democrat MP for Bristol West, said: "Local government is being asked to make savings, just like any other department.
"I do not see the future in quite such apocalyptic terms, and I don't see a future where basic expectations of local government should be under threat.
"Bristol has had the same challenges as other city councils, but we have managed not to close any libraries, so it depends how well the council does."
Peter Abraham, leader of the Conservative group on Bristol City Council, said: "My concern is that we are carrying on running services in the same old way. I have got a feeling that this is a government thing as well. They seem to be announcing £20 million on this, another £100 million on that at the moment, and we're supposed to be strapped for money."