Yesterday the Local Government Secretary was trying to tell us there will be no cuts in Council spending in the next couple of years. When challenged he could not give us any figures for 2011 and beyond, nor would he share with us what might come out of the 3 year spending review which Labour has delayed until after the Election. He just kept repeating the mantra that things would be tougher than in recent years when there had been substantial real increases in money available, and that every Council should concentrate on making themselves more efficient against the day when they know the settlements. He would neither confirm nor deny the Prime Minister’s statement at PMQs some time ago that there will no cuts.
Local government and some outside commentators are talking about cuts as large as 10-20%, based on the extent of the overspending in national budgets generally. These figures seem high, bearing in mind the importance of schools spending within local government totals, and the priority accorded to education spending by all three main parties. What is clear is that cuts are coming to Councils once the election is out of the way. The government made itself sound silly by trying to pretend this was not so, when their own plans to cut the deficit in half must require cuts from Councils as well as elsewhere.