On 13 December, every local authority in England found out how much funding it will receive from central government in 2011/12. 

In the Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) in October, the Government announced plans to reduce funding to local councils by around 26% over the next four years. For 2011/12 the average funding reduction is 4.4%, with some councils having their funding reduced by as much as 8.9%, while one council, Dorset, has a funding increase of 0.25%.

Although funding for local authorities overall has been reduced, there is some good news for people affected by autism, as the Government said in the CSR that there will be an extra £2bn of funding for social care for local authorities over the next four years. They have also announced an extra £800m over the next four years to fund short breaks for families of disabled children as part of an Early Intervention Grant, which also covers funding for services such as Sure Start.

Local authorities will now begin the process of setting their own budgets for next year, and will be looking at where they can reduce spending and save money. It’s really important that as many people as possible contact their local council to ask them to continue to invest in vital services and support for people with autism and their families. 

In January, the NAS will be launching resources to help you do this. In the meantime, you can download a template letter to send to the leader of your local council. 

You can find your local council here.  

If you live in an area where there is a district and a county council, you need to write to the leader of your county council, as they provide education and social care services.

How much money has my local authority received?

All local councils get a Formula Grant from central government, which they can spend as they want. We’ve created a spreadsheet so you can find out how much your local council’s 2011/12 funding has been reduced.

The Government wants to give local councils a lot more freedom about how they spend their budgets, so it has reduced the number of grants that it gives to councils to spend on specific areas. However, there are still a few of these grants. Some will be relevant to people with autism, notably the Early Intervention Grant, as £198m of the £2,212m (around 9%) that has been allocated for 2011/12 should be spent on short breaks for families of disabled children. The grant isn’t ring-fenced, so local authorities don’t have to spend it on services for disabled children, but the Government has said that short breaks are a priority area for the funding.

The Government has also made adult social care a priority, so local authorities have been given money called Learning Disability and Health Reform Allocation, to be spent on improving adult learning disability services and making them work better with mental health services. Local authorities will also receive money called Adult Personal Social Services Capital Allocation to be spent on increasing efficiency in adult social care and moving towards greater personalisation of services. 

You can use our spreadsheet to find out how much each local authority has been allocated through these funding streams, but campaigners should be aware that a lot of the money is intended to cover administrative costs, like improving systems to support personalisation, rather than individual care packages. 

However, you could argue that local authorities should be taking the needs of people with autism into account in reforming their services and delivering personalisation. Examples of this might include developing a brokerage scheme to support people with autism to make choices about their care, or delivering training in autism to enable staff to make more accurate assessments of need.

Source:  http://www.autism.org.uk/news-and-events/news-from-the-nas/local-authorities-2011-12-funding.aspx