Local government funding to be slashed again in 2015
Local government funding is set to be slashed again in 2015. According to today’s government spending review, the funding given to local councils by the Department of Communities and Local Government will be reduced by £2.1 billion down to £23.5 billion, a cut of 8.2% excluding inflation. As not all council spending comes from central government, this is expected to result in an overall reduction in local government spending of 2.3%.
By all accounts – except Mr Osborne’s – cuts in local government are already reaching the bone. I know from personal experience that libraries are being closed and that the cuts to rural bus services are worse than decimation, none of which tallies with my view of how a civilised country should conduct itself.
The antipathetically inclined reader may want to just discount the above as the jaundiced view of “producer interest”, so in this case I will step aside to give some space to a senior Conservative and successful businessman to respond to the news of even deeper cuts.
Sir Merrick Cockell is the chairman of the Local Government Association, and the leader of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, so he is about as far away from being one of “the usual suspects” as it is possible to be.
He said that the Coalition was pursuing “a feudal approach to local government” which would stretch essential services to breaking point.
“While positive steps have been taken to target NHS funding at social care, the fact remains that some councils will simply not have enough money to meet all their statutory responsibilities… Services such as culture and leisure facilities, school support, road maintenance and growth-related programmes will bear the brunt of these cuts,” he said, and added that councils were already coping with 33% cut in real terms .
If these plans go ahead they will further damage the economic and social life of this country.