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Fall in finance chiefs' confidence in maintaining services

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A large majority of chief finance officers continue to report that budgetary pressures in adult and children’s social care services are their greatest areas of concern, research has found.

The results of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance & Accountancy’s annual survey of CFOs shows 86% of the the 93 top-tier repondents identified adult social care as a major concern, while 85% highlighted children’s social care.

However, this represents improved confidence in these service areas since last year’s survey when 95% cited adult social care and 94% highlighted children’s social care as main areas of concern.

The third most common service highlighted by respondents this year was housing, with 41% identifying budgetary pressures as a problem, compared to 37% last year.

The research also revealed 38% of the 220 overall council CFOs that responded were “less confident” of maintaining levels of service provision in the next financial year, compared to 15% in the last survey.

The most significant annual shift in confidence to deliver services was reported by CFOs at English county councils, with 35% saying they were “much less confident”, compared to 17% of those surveyed last year.

Sean Nolan, Cipfa director of local government, said government plans to allow councils to increase the social care precept on council tax was “probably too little too late to stop a major crisis in social care services”.

He added: “Cipfa believes that the government must take a strategic and long term approach to funding levels for health and social care together, rather than continuing to rely on short term financial fixes.”

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