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22.11.17

City-centric, deeply disappointing and a nightmare – criticisms pile against the Budget

It’s been a busy day in the PSE office. Philip Hammond’s Autumn Budget included a number of interesting announcements, ranging from new devolution deals and housing measures to changes to business rates.

This year’s Statement was described well by Lord Bob Kerslake, who said it had been a “mixed bag” for housing announcements.

And as with any Budget, much of the conversation has revolved around where money will not be going over the next year, rather than what areas will indeed receive extra funding.

Sadiq Khan and Andy Burnham both rued the lack of funding for police and counter-terrorism, especially given that the UK has been hit by five dreadful attacks over the last year.

Significantly, though the NHS was given an extra £2.8bn to support it through what will be a tough winter, social care barely got a mention from the chancellor.

“We are extremely disappointed that the government has not addressed the need for extra funding for adult social care,” said Margaret Willcox, president of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS), who wrote for PSE about this issue shortly before the Budget.

“This means that this winter and throughout next year we will continue to see more older and disabled people not getting the care and support – which they desperately need now. A lack of extra funding will also lead to an even greater toll being placed on the 6.5 million family members and other carers.

“By the end of this financial year, £6bn will have been cut from councils’ adult social care budgets since 2010 - with need for our services growing all that time.”

Jonathan Carr-West, chief executive of the LGiU, shared this sentiment, commenting: “The lack of a commitment on social care will not ease very current worries about funding – despite the announcement last week of the consultation on the Green Paper, it will not be published until next July.”

Education, which has frequently been described as unsustainable by key figures across the sector, also saw very little in the way of significant new money, despite historic underfunding leading to a serious decline in the quality of schools in the UK.  

Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, argued: “The government had a big political choice to make in today’s Budget – to invest in education, or to continue with its damaging policy of real terms cuts. 

“The Budget, with no significant new money for education, shows that the government has chosen to ignore the anger of parents and the clear evidence of the problems being created by real terms cuts to education. Parents and teachers will be deeply disappointed.

“With nine out of 10 schools facing real terms cuts per pupil, the government is telling parents today that their children deserve less than was spent on children in previous years,” he concluded. “Schools need £2bn a year extra funding to restore real terms per pupil funding to 2015-16 levels.”

The GMB union had similarly scathing words for the chancellor. Rehana Azam, its general secretary, was sharply critical of Hammond’s inability to say anything new about the infamous public sector pay cap.

“He sounded like he was trying to deliver an ‘I have a dream’ speech, but the pay cap remains a living nightmare for our dedicated public sector workers,” she said.

“The small print of the Budget reveals that pay awards are likely to be further delayed next year, potentially leaving millions of families out of pocket.”

County councils were another party with mixed feelings. Though Cllr Paul Carter, chairman of the County Councils Network (CCN), admitted that the announcements on housing were positive, he expressed concern that many of the measures were too “city-centric.” 

“Counties face a £2.54bn funding gap, and while the NHS received yet further resources today, we are left waiting for the local government finance settlement to see whether we will receive further much-needed support through the extension and increase in transitional funding,” he stated.

“We hope the secretary of state for local government will be provided with financial flexibility to support local government.

“Government promised to spread growth to all four corners of England, and while we welcome the Housing Infrastructure Fund extension, many of today’s announcements, particularly the money for metro-mayors, were city-centric,” he continued.

“The Industrial Strategy, to be published in shortly, must ensure resource stretches beyond the cities.”

In many ways, the story of this Autumn Budget reflects what we heard back in March: some welcome extra cash, but still not nearly enough to keep a lot of the public sector afloat through the troubled waters ahead.

Comments

Elizabeth Mcglone   25/11/2017 at 18:06

Cool topic. Very interesting. It’s so true that the feeling of exacting revenge is one of the greatest motivators I have ever experienced. And yet, once realized, it doesn’t hold a candle to what I had imagined it would be like. Kind of like watching a movie after reading the articles. OneDayTop has recently posted for Travel : http://onedaytop.com/ideal-place-visit-november/

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