Tower Hamlets Mayor says government must stand by local authorities facing £10 billion ‘coronavirus black hole’

Mayor of Tower Hamlets John Biggs calls for guidance on how to address the health inequalities that

Mayor of Tower Hamlets John Biggs calls for guidance on how to address the health inequalities that determines the impact of coronavirus. Picture: Tower Hamlets Council - Credit: Archant

The future of social care is bleak, says Tower Hamlets mayor John Biggs, as new analysis reveals that local authorities face losing £3.5billion from their care budgets to compensate for a £10bn “coronavirus black hole”.

This figure was calculated according to 2019/2020 budget estimates, local authorities’ coronavirus-related costs and income losses, and adult social care budget data from the Kings Fund and the Department for Health and Social Care.

Should the government not step in to relieve this deficit, all local authorities will have to reduce their budgets by 21per cent.

In terms of social care provision, this means the equivalent of 225,000 adult places will be at risk, with London alone predicted to lose 31,274 places.

Many of these would come in Tower Hamlets, where the gravity of the situation was made clear by Mr Biggs in a letter written to the prime minister last month.

For the year 2020/2021, the council estimates that it will spend an additional £24.4m due to Covid-19 pressures, while income will reduce by £34.6m.

These projections arrive at a time when the council are already struggling, having been asked to make £190m in savings since 2010, alongside a further £39m expected by 2023.

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As a result, this fresh analysis really concerns the mayor: “Everyone in this community knows the sacrifice and the loss we have endured through the coronavirus crisis, and we all know the enormous strain on our carers, and our friends and family who rely on their care.”

Mr Biggs said that although the council will do what it can, the government must step up: “The reality is that if ministers don’t fulfil their promise and close the £10billion funding gap then frontline services will bear the brunt and our community will suffer.”

The situation is especially dire because local authorities are the largest providers of social care in England.

A withdrawal of government support would also affect those who provide social care, says Steve Reed MP.

The shadow communities and local government secretary said that unless the government “change course”, the likelihood is that “the frontline heroes we’re cheering today will lose their jobs tomorrow”.