Councils 'to cut social care budgets'
A number of councils are set to slash their social care budgets over the next few months.
Almost half of local authorities in England and Wales said they were planning to reduce spending on care services for adults, a poll revealed.
The figure led a consortium of disability charities to say that many people currently receiving council help with everyday tasks such as washing, eating and communicating will be "left to fend for themselves".
Council leaders admitted that local finances were becoming "unsustainable", and said that the latest round of cuts, which will also affect sports, arts, youth and household waste services, could bring local government "to its knees".
Officials predicted that budgets will come under even more pressure as some local authorities begin drawing up plans for even deeper savings in 12 months' time.
More than 50% are cutting money spent on children's services, while almost two-thirds plan to cut spending on culture and sports, with Wigan Council slashing its budget by more than three-quarters, the survey of more than 80 councils for the Guardian revealed.
Birmingham City Council, Britain's biggest local authority, admitted that cuts of up to £600 million by 2016-17 - or half of its budget - are now being revised upwards.
In total, local authorities have made more than £5 billion worth of cuts since June 2010, including axing 230,000 jobs, but admit they will be forced to "decommission" services such as libraries, leisure facilities and after-school clubs.
One in three councils are proposing to increase council tax next year, despite a Government pledge of funding if they freeze the charge.
On average, the councils that responded to the survey said they will this year protect adult and children's services from the brunt of the cuts - but that is against a backdrop of rising demand for help and the introduction of means testing to make up the shortfall.