Councils ‘Need To Do More’

(Reuters) – COUNCILS IN ENGLAND need to do more to prepare for the effects of the recession and a rise in social problems such as unemployment, domestic violence and alcoholism, according to a report today.

Local government watchdog the Audit Commission said councils had made a positive initial response to the economic downturn; but warned more problems were on their way as the recession deepened.

‘Councils need to move from being reactive to proactive, and prepare to combat a wide range of resultant social problems,’ said the commission’s Chief Executive Steve Bundred.

‘When it comes to the crunch, those with sound plans focussed on local issues, and delivered in partnership, will stand the best chance.’

The report said a first wave of the recession had caused business failures and unemployment; but a second wave would lead to increased social pressures for councils as all areas witnessed a rise in unemployment.

This would lead to rises in problems from drug addiction to fly-tipping and stray dogs.

‘Many councils should be doing more to prepare for the expected social, financial and economic development challenges ahead,’ the report said.

‘This includes councils that have escaped the worst effects to date, some of which are complacent.’

One in three local authorities were facing extra pressures over social care, mental health services and school places as parents moved their children from private to state schools, the commission found.

Nearly all had seen their finances affected and more than half had redundancy programmes in place.

However the report warned that some councils were investing in actions ‘without the backing of a sound, well-informed plan.’

‘Most councils have a clear understanding of the local impact of the recession,’ it said. ‘But having knowledge is not the same as using it. Few are targeting their efforts effectively.’

… (13/08/2009) – £3m For Recession Hit High Streets

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