A written letter from a national group calling for ministers to be joined-up with local family services calls for community leaders to take action and support local family services. In an age where many families are having to look after single parents or very young children themselves, this is an important message. Committee news from UK Parliament discusses the impact of the economic recession on local authorities. The report identifies three ways in which the recession has affected local authorities:

Committee News

Expenditure: With fewer people working and incomes reduced, local authorities have had to find ways to balance their budgets. These include cutting staff, freezing budgets, and increasing borrowing. However, some areas have seen increases in expenditure too – for example, councils in London have increased spending on transport, culture and heritage over the past few years, for example. However, there has been a reduction in funding for many other things, particularly public transport.

Education: Another area that has been hit is education. Primary teachers have seen a 10% cut in income in one area alone. Primary teachers in Reading have also been affected by a teacher recruitment drive. One teacher said that she had just completed her three-year teaching degree when she was being forced to learn the new National Curriculum, which has left her struggling. “We’ve all seen the impact it’s had on pupils and teachers alike”, she said.

Childcare: Childcare professionals have also had their budgets reduced. This has been particularly apparent in the north-west, where cuts of up to 40% in local council funding have affected care provision by almost 25%. One nursery worker said that children were not getting enough time with teachers. “Now they are just sitting at home waiting for a teacher to come and go. It makes it really hard for teachers to work”.

Health and Safety: This has affected health professionals in many different ways. There are concerns about how the NHS will cope with demand – a report published this week by The Independent highlighted how some hospitals have staff levels decreasing while surgery hours are increasing. Concerns also exist over the rising number of consultants. Consultants are used to dealing with a small number of cases, but a growing number of surgeries are seeing a rise in consultant numbers. This has meant that surgeries are coping with more complex cases – with less medical staff available to deal with these cases. This is having an effect on hospital rotas, which are being stretched to the limit as fewer medical staff are available to cater for them.

Crime and Courts: A few years ago there was a story about a young woman who killed her baby because she was too upset to cry. This is now a reality. A judge ordered her to be treated under a special children’s program, which helps mothers and fathers who have difficulties controlling their temper. This type of help is now available to any parent who finds themselves struggling with anger, depression or other similar mental health issues. The Committee News piece also pointed out that child offenders and those in the grip of serious crime are increasingly becoming younger.