Bin collections, libraries and social care have been slashed as town hall cuts begin to bite.
The number of households enjoying weekly bin collections has plummeted by a third since 2010, it emerged last night.
A report by the Government’s spending watchdog revealed that 10 per cent of libraries have closed since the Tories took power.
And the adult social care crisis has deepened, with town halls spending 3 per cent less on the sector despite an increase of 14 per cent of people who need care.
The cuts have occurred despite huge rises in council tax. Last week, it emerged that the average Band D household faces another 5 per cent increase next month.
The number of households enjoying weekly bin collections has plummeted by a third since 2010, it emerged last night
The National Audit Office said cash-strapped councils were ‘raiding their rainy day funds’ to cope with growing demand on social care.
But if town halls continue to dip into their reserves at the same rate, one in ten large authorities will run out of reserves within three years.
The NAO said government funding for local authorities had fallen by an estimated 50 per cent since April 2011.
Road maintenance budgets have been cut, and the number of miles covered by subsidised buses outside London has halved since 2010.
NAO head Amyas Morse said: ‘Current funding for local authorities is characterised by one-off and short-term fixes, many of which come with centrally driven conditions.
‘This restricts the capacity of local authorities and yet the weight of responsibility to respond to increased demand and maintain services remains very much on their shoulders.
‘The Government risks sleepwalking into a centralised local authority financial system where the scope for local discretion is being slowly eroded.’
A report by the Government’s spending watchdog revealed that 10 per cent of libraries have closed since the Tories took power
The report found authorities’ financial positions have ‘worsened markedly’, particularly for those councils which have social services departments, with several authorities struggling to balance their books.
Although social services departments have been cut, other departments have faced much larger reductions.
It meant local authorities’ financial support for social care rose from 45.3 per cent of its total service spend to 54.4 per cent during that period.
There was 52.8 per cent less for planning and development, 45.6 per cent on housing services, 37 per cent on highways and transport, and 35 per cent on cultural and related services.
The report said: ‘We noted in 2014 that the sector had coped well financially with funding reductions, but our current work has identified signs of real financial pressure.
‘A combination of reduced funding and higher demand has meant that a growing number of single-tier and county authorities have not managed within their service budgets and have relied on reserves to balance their books.
And the adult social care crisis has deepened, with town halls spending 3 per cent less on the sector despite an increase of 14 per cent of people who need care. File image used
These trends are not financially sustainable over the medium term.’
Labour MP Meg Hillier, who chairs the Commons’ public accounts committee said, councils ‘have had to make stark choices about which services they continue to provide’.
She added: ‘Many councils are raiding their rainy day funds to pay for social care. Councils need to know what their long-term future is, but instead of sorting this out, Whitehall has used a series of short-term fixes to paper over the cracks.’
Lord Porter, chairman of the Local Government Association, said: ‘The Government needs to urgently address this cliff-edge and the growing funding gaps facing local services.’
A Government spokesman said: ‘Last month, Parliament approved a funding settlement which strikes a balance between relieving growing pressure on local government and ensuring hard-pressed taxpayers do not face excessive bills.’