Communities are under threat from council cuts. Photo: Getty
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England's councils are on a "cliff-edge" due to cuts

The Independent Commission on Local Government Finance has warned that local services could "collapse" due to cuts.

The Independent Commission on Local Government Finance is warning ministers that public services are on the edge of "collapse" without drastic intervention. The commission has found that English councils are on a "cliff-edge" due to past and upcoming cuts.

It found that local services, such as adult social care, could be on the brink of disappearing unless councils don't receive some urgen financial help. Its report warns services that have long been "part of everyday life... may not be there much longer".

The report refers to further cuts expected in the next parliament. These were outlined by George Osborne in his Autumn Statement last year, and caused the OBR to report that they would take us back to Thirties spending. The commission says the future cuts would mean areas such as children's social care, policing, fire services and culture would "struggle to survive" unless "local areas are not given the freedom to determine their own priorities and how they pay for them".

It urges ministers to implement a further devolution powers, including tax-raising autonomy, for local authorities. Yet the BBC reports that while the government is open to decentralisation, it will not allow councils to raise their own taxes.

The findings of this report will benefit the Labour party, which won't cut to the same extent as the current government would in the next parliament. Also, Andy Burnham's plan to integrate social care into the NHS means that both adult and children's social care services would no longer be on the brink of "collapse".

Anoosh Chakelian is deputy web editor at the New Statesman.

David Cameron addresses pupils at an assembly during a visit to Corby Technical School on September 2, 2015. Photograph: Getty Images.
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Can Cameron maintain his refugee stance as he comes under attack from all sides?

Tory MPs, the Sun, Labour and a growing section of the public are calling on the PM to end his refusal to take "more and more". 

The disparity between the traumatic images of drowned Syrian children and David Cameron's compassionless response ("I don't think there is an answer that can be achieved simply by taking more and more refugees") has triggered a political backlash. A petition calling for greater action (the UK has to date accepted around 5,000) has passed the 100,000 threshold required for the government to consider a debate after tens of thousands signed this morning. Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson has tweeted: "This is not an immigration issue, it's a humanitarian one, and the human response must be to help. If we don't, what does that make us?" Tory MPs such as Nicola Blackwood, David Burrowes, Jeremy Lefroy and Johnny Mercer have similarly appealed to Cameron to reverse his stance.

Today's Sun declares that the UK has "a proud record of taking in desperate people and we should not flinch from it now if it is beyond doubt that they have fled for their lives." Meanwhile, the Washington Post has published a derisive piece headlined "Britain takes in so few refugees from Syria they would fit on a subway train". Labour has called on Cameron to convene a meeting of Cobra to discuss the crisis and to request an emergency EU summit. Yvette Cooper, who led the way with a speech on Monday outlining how the UK could accept 10,000 refugees, is organising a meeting of councils, charities and faith groups to discuss Britain's response. Public opinion, which can turn remarkably quickly in response to harrowing images, is likely to have grown more sympathetic to the Syrians' plight. Indeed, a survey in March found that those who supported accepting refugees fleeing persecution outnumbered opponents by 47-24 per cent. 

The political question is whether this cumulative pressure will force Cameron to change his stance. He may not agree to match Cooper's demand of 10,000 (though Germany is poised to accept 800,000) but an increasing number at Westminster believe that he cannot remain impassive. Surely Cameron, who will not stand for election again, will not want this stain on his premiership? The UK's obstinacy is further antagonising Angela Merkel on whom his hopes of a successful EU renegotiation rest. If nothing else, Cameron should remember one of the laws of politics: the earlier a climbdown, the less painful it is. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.