A Quiet Crisis: Changes in local government spending on disadvantage

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Lloyds Bank Foundation England and Wales


A Quiet Crisis: Changes in local government spending on disadvantage is a report from Lloyds Bank Foundation for England and Wales. It is about the services which English local authorities provide to support people facing disadvantage.

Using a composite measure of ‘spending on disadvantage’, it looks at how such spending has changed, both in terms of service volume and responsibilities, how this compares with what has happened to demand for these services, and how the picture varies across the country.

The report’s findings don’t just make for interesting (and somewhat frightening) reading; it is also a rich source of credible data that can help community organisations in England to highlight the need for their services when applying for funding or contracts.

The data looks at the national picture and so can be used in that context – it does not provide data for individual authorities.

The report was released in September 2018; its key findings are:

  • Spending by local councils in England on services for adults and children facing disadvantage has fallen by 2% over the five years since 2011/12, compared with an 8% fall for local government services as a whole. However, rising demand means the impact of these cuts on people accessing services is greater than the average fall in spending.
  • There is great variation in spending across different categories of disadvantage, with a 5% rise in child social care, a 2% fall in social care for working-age adults and a 13% fall in housing services. 
  • To manage, councils have had to shift away from preventive spending towards crisis spending. For example, there has been a 46% reduction in spending on preventing homelessness, while spending on homelessness crisis support has increased by 58%, primarily through the cost of providing temporary accommodation. 
  • Almost all (97%) of the reduction in spending has occurred in the most deprived fifth of local areas. Metropolitan and other urban areas concentrated in the North and Midlands, as well as coastal districts across England, are over-represented in this group, yet these areas also have higher numbers of people facing disadvantage and in need of support

You can access the report here.