A Ipsos Mori survey in July found that nearly two-thirds (63 per cent) of local residents said that local authority budget reductions have not made a noticeable difference to services. Conservative ministers think this provides a justification for further cuts in government grant to councils and an insistence that further cuts in expenditure and services should be made.
Consultants PWC found that almost half the people it surveyed were unaware of any reductions in local council services in their area. However, PWC had the insight to say ‘To some extent, this is a testament to the success of local authorities to date in focussing on internal efficiencies while protecting the frontline’.
Of course, it may be the case that the cuts to date have not impacted on half the population. Maybe their family does not include one of
- · the more than 500,000 elderly people who have completely lost their home care support, or
- · the rest of the elderly or someone with disabilities who have had a massive hike in fees for their home care, or
- · the vast majority of young people who have completely lost their youth service, or
- · those who used the more than 600 libraries that have already closed, or
- · the young parents who were supported by one of the nearly 700 Sure Start centres which, despite David Cameron’s promise otherwise, have closed since 2010.
I could go on. However, it’s important to note that less than half of the cuts announced to date by the government have yet been implemented. Further, last week, the Chancellor said more big cuts would be required from next year.
Now, the totally independent National Audit Office has produced a report which confirms, amongst other things, that
- · between 2010/11 and 2015/16, government grant to local councils has been cut by 37%. The cut is even bigger for councils in South Yorkshire.
- · a 46% cut in planning and economic development over the same period
- · between 2013/14 and 2014/15, there was a 40% cut in spending on adult social care
· The NAO says, if health and schools spending is to be protected, that inevitably means that transport, highways’ maintenance, culture (libraries, museums, theatres) and consumer protection (eg trading standards) are going to be badly hit in the next couple of years.
Don’t say you haven’t been warned.