Today’s councils are a bit like salmon swimming upstream. As long as they keep fighting against the river they can slowly get closer to their goal. The second they stop, the current of centralism will wash them back out to sea.
George Osborne’s recent warning about the impact of slower than forecast growth cast an ominous shadow over the Budget he will deliver on 16 March. Councils emerging from their own annual budget-setting rounds will have little patience for shifting spending goalposts only erected in November’s Spending Review. Instead, the Chancellor’s focus should be on creating […]
Merry Christmas. I know it might not feel like there’s a lot to celebrate. The New Year will bring more cuts to services that are already creaking under the strain of the past five years. You face a huge challenge to reform your services and save money, and you have very little thinking capacity to […]
In one sense, George Osborne’s Spending Review confirmed what we already knew. Local government will take fairly steep cuts and be forced to rely far more on the resources it can generate from the local economy. But what appears to be continuity is actually masking some very significant shifts in government attitudes. The biggest of […]
So now we know. Local government must prepare for Revenue Support Grant (RSG) to more than halve from £11.5bn this year to £5.4bn by the end of the decade. The Chancellor’s plans are complex. While RSG will be phased out, Osborne claims that overall local spending will actually rise in cash terms as a result […]
Localism? Devolution? power to the people? Oh well…sadly much of the current devolution debate is as far from power to the people as ever. As Parliament debates the Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill in Committee it continues a long history of argument about the economic potential of the UK, while ignoring the importance of […]
Devolution brings with it the chance for regions to do more to stimulate local economies. But to get the most bang for their buck, they need to look closely at the data before they get excited about more offices, factories, houses, bricks, concrete and steel. This may sound paradoxical. But infrastructure and buildings are not […]
The state will not get smarter if reform itself is not done smartly. Unless the Spending Review meets the scale of the challenge, there is a risk that constrained local public services increasingly are only able to provide ‘less for less’.