“The government promised stable, long-term funding for councils, but today’s announcements will only add to the sector’s confusion. George Osborne promised further cuts for 2019 and knocked a huge hole in business rate income without spelling out how councils will be compensated.
On the positive side, the government promised new devolution deals for East Anglia, the West of England and Greater Lincolnshire. This means that devolution has finally reached the shires. Additionally, devolving power over the Criminal Justice System in Greater Manchester is a show of confidence in what local delivery can do. Working locally to keep people out of expensive prisons and deal with anti-social behaviours in a person-centred way is vital to improving lives and life chances.
The government’s announcement on academies is not really all that radical. Councils already play only a residual role in the education system, and moving to academies is the logical culmination of 20 years of reform. The idea that ‘local bureaucracy’ is the problem with British education is completely outdated: councils can no longer afford the dead hand of bureaucracy even if they wanted to. As so many other areas of local public services seek to integrate, working closer together at a local level, schools being run from the centre will hamper their ability to contribute to their places and respond to the economic and social needs to their local areas.”