Magazine article Public Finance

Cold Cuts

Magazine article Public Finance

Cold Cuts

Article excerpt

It may only have been the starter - and one ordered well in advance - but this week s local government finance settlement offered a foretaste of what is to come in next Wednesday's Pro-Budget Report. Both, after all, represent the lag end of an era; rather more reheated leftovers than gourmet dining.

Just as next week's solemn pronouncements will, we assume, be the final PBR from Gordon Brown as chancellor, so this week s council settlement is the last before Sir Michael Lyons delivers his report on local government finance.

Both budgetary events will precipitate intense turf wars within and between central and local government. Assurances from local government minister Phil Woolas that this week's £3.1bn 2007/08 increase provides 'stable and predictable' funding have cut little ice with local authority leaders.

Local Government Association chair Sandy Bruce-Lockhart was quick to point out that - excluding schools and other specific services - funding for councils has increased by just 14% over ten years, compared with 90% for the NHS.

This, when rising demands are imposing significant strains on local government, and there is talk of service cuts and strikes. …

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