Councils expect social problems from recession
The government's spending watchdog warned last night that the recession and rising unemployment will cause a wave of social problems over the coming year.
They will include rising homelessness, more family breakdowns, increased drug-taking and more alcohol abuse, the Audit Commission said after a survey of councils' chief finance directors, conducted in October and November.
The commission found the recession is already causing more homelessness in one third of local authorities and two-thirds predict the problem to worsen in 2009/10. It said: "The slowdown in house building is reducing the amount of new social housing and therefore the number of social properties available to let. This will be a particular problem in areas of high housing stress where homeless families and individuals already take up a significant proportion of available lettings."
More than half the chief finance officers anticipated growing demand among older people for support from social care.
The report said: "There is growing concern that the downturn will lead to more family breakdowns, with more children being taken into care, an increase in demand for residential places for the elderly, increased drug and alcohol abuse, and an increase in demand for financial advice." Other problems included councils' suppliers going out of business and a threat to deals under the private finance initiative.
The commission report found 14% of councils have made compulsory redundancies to balance the books during the current financial year and more than 40% have plans for voluntary redundancies.