Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Free school meals may be scrapped by councils under 'tidal wave' of cuts

Think-tank warns of 'a tidal wave of cuts that makes the 1980s look like a day at the beach'


Free school meals could soon be scrapped and people paid to look after elderly neighbours as councils take desperate measures to deliver a “tidal wave” of spending cuts, ministers will be warned on Tuesday. 

Closures of municipal theatres, leisure centres, libraries and play groups will accelerate because of a 50 per cent reduction in local authorities’ spending power, according to a report from an independent think-tank.

The New Local Government Network said town halls will struggle to cope with a £16.5bn gulf which could, under current Coalition plans, open between their income and the demands on them.

The disparity will leave them facing huge problems meeting their commitments to care for the millions of “baby boomers” reaching old age and educate growing numbers of children. 

The financial pressures could become so acute that ordinary householders could even be paid to look after elderly and vulnerable neighbours as a cheaper alternative to employing skilled carers, the organisation speculates.

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