The government has recently published more figures showing the real changes in public spending in recent years. These reveal that real spending has gone up in several large programmes, including health, social security and general public services. It has also risen in international services including overseas aid, EU contributions, science and technology and environmental protection. There have been real cuts in defence, public order, recreation and culture, and enterprise and economic development. Overall general government consumption went up by 1.5% in 2014, and is going up by another 0.8% this year, in real terms , according to the Budget Red Book. General government investment rose by 7.3% last year and by another 2.3% this year in real terms. Real household disposable income rose by 1.4% last year and is forecast to rise by 3.7% this year.
One of the difficult areas to research is what has happened to local authority grants and spending. Many Councils argue they have faced large cuts. The figures are difficult to deduce because in 2013-14 the government reclassified large sums, with the localisation of business rates and of Council tax benefit. In a recent government publication it shows the pattern of so called Local Government Resource AME as £284 m in 2009-10, rising to £11,123 million in 2013-14, whereas Resource DEL fell from £26.805 billion in 2009-10 to £16.281 billion in 2013-14. If we add the two together the sums rose from £27.089 bn in 2009-10 to £27.5bn in 2013-14, a modest rise which also needs to be adjusted for any changes in responsibilities. There was also at the same time some redistribution of grants undertaken to give a bit more relatively to Councils that received very little central grant.
The 2015 Budget Red Book has a figure for locally financed current expenditure. This rose from £33 bn in 2013-14, to £35.8bn in 2-14-15, and is forecast to rise to £37.6bn in 2015-16. These are cash figures and are not adjusted for any change in responsibilities. Locally financed capital spending is constant at £7bn a year for the three years. The good news is public satisfaction with Council services has not fallen during this period, despite many Councils stating they have faced cuts in their grants and budgets.