Whitehall cuts deal 'does not affect local government'

28 May 13
The government has confirmed that Whitehall cuts agreed yesterday will not affect council funding, which is still being negotiated by the various departments.

By Richard Johnstone | 29 May 2013

The government has confirmed that Whitehall cuts agreed yesterday will not affect council funding, which is still being negotiated by the various departments.

However, the Local Government Association has urged ministers to ensure local services are ‘adequately funded’.

Chancellor George Osborne announced yesterday that the Department for Communities and Local Government was among seven Whitehall departments to agree spending cuts of 8%–10% in 2015/16, ahead of the Comprehensive Spending Review on June 26.

Although the DCLG is the main council funder, town halls also receive funds from other departments, including Education for schools, and Health for public health services.

LGA chair Sir Merrick Cockell said local government’s financial sustainability was ‘on a knife edge’ and any further cuts would pose ‘a real threat’ to valued services. Councils ‘bore the brunt of cuts in the last Spending Review’, he added, with their government grant reduced by a third between 2011/12 and 2014/15, and could not afford to do so again.

We are urging the chancellor to ensure local services are adequately funded in 2015/16 and beyond,’ he said.

In particular, ministers must examine how spending on the NHS and schools, which will be protected in the Spending Review, could be used more effectively, Cockell said. The ring-fence around these budgets should be widened to include services that help elderly people stay in their homes, and early intervention programmes for children. Such an approach would ultimately save money by reducing pressure on hospitals, police and prisons, the LGA said.

If council spending was not protected, the ‘end result’ would be a further tightening of eligibility criteria for care and support services, and cuts to areas like road maintenance and economic regeneration, the group warned.




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