What is an essential service? When is a service no longer a safe service? 

 

Another council leader discussing the dire budget position of their authority 

states they only have enough money for “essential “ services but what is essential? I  don’t think there is a definition of “essential “. Where there is a statutory responsibility then it would be illegal not to provide a service. There is a statutory responsibility to provide a library service but if you closed all your libraries bar two one in the north of the council and one in the south and possible a one vehicle mobile service would this meet your statutory responsibilities. 

 

Another director warns that the budget shortfall means adult social service or child protection service are very close to being unsafe. I don’t suppose they could come out publicly and say their services were unsafe so this is probably the closes they come. Councils have a legal duty to provide safe services but who decides when the service is no longer safe? What is the definition of an “unsafe service”? 

 

The government appears to think these definition are financial as in what the council can afford but the courts may have a different view. In the end the Law Lords may have to decide.

 

Blair McPherson former director, author and blogger www.blairmcphetson.co.uk 

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