Spending Review – Was it good for you?
The Government has now released the details on its Spending Review. There are lots of areas that have come under the squeeze, but I will concentrate on some those that could affect Cornwall Council. Click HERE for the full review, and Pages 47-50 for Local Government. The question is it as bad as we thought. For those from different Political Parties they will treat it like people treat Marmite. But, let’s look on the simple details and how it could affect you and me.
As I feared the Grant cut is near the 30% mark that the Council expected. It’s 28.4%, or 7.1% year on year. That will have a major impact on what services Cornwall Council provides. At least it’s not worse. But what is bad is on page 48, point 2.36 of the review it makes reference to the Fire Service. It says there will be a reduction in fire resource expenditure of 13% and within this a 25% cut in grants to Local Authorities (LA).They say in the report it will be up to the LA how to implement this. (How nice of them..)
Capital funding from all departments to the LA will be reduced by 45%. It says it will prioritise capital investment on areas of greater economic value, such as high value local transport. We will just have to wait to understand what ‘high value’ means.
An interesting part is that social housing getting reformed to provide a more tailored need to the individual with a lower cost (what ever that means). It also says that there will be investment to deliver 150,000 new affordable houses, but it does cover itself by saying ‘up to’. That could mean anything from 1 to 150, 0000 houses.
On a positive note it ‘claims’ it will give significant devolution of financial control to Councils, by removing the ring-fencing around all revenue grants expect the simplified schools grant and the new public health grant. This looks like on paper a reduction of core grant formulas from 90 to 10. So I hope this will mean we are not now ham-strung on how we spend the money. I have seen in the past one Dept sitting with a large pop of money and not able to spend it, but other Dept desperately need it, but can’t use it. I hope this will allow more control to direct the money to where it is needed.
There are many aspects to this review that will have some sort of impact to our day to day lives. This Government cut Building School’s for Future (BSF), but in the report if says it will rebuild or refurbish over 600 school during the spending review. Lets hope some of that money does indeed come our way.
As always it’s the detail behind the head-lines. I am sure over the coming days many people will look over those details and workout how this is going to reflect on how we at Cornwall Council provide a lot of services.
Anyway I do think the review is worth a read and then make up your own mind on how good you think it is.