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Autumn spending review will decide future of public services – LGA

The new chairman of the Local Government Association (LGA) has welcomed the move by the chancellor not to use his Summer Budget to further reduce in-year local government funding. 

However, Cllr Gary Porter added that “councils will now be looking to the spending review in the autumn which will decide the future of our public services over the next decade”. 

Cllr Porter said: “It is likely to see councils continue to face challenging funding reductions and spending pressures over the next few years. Government's goal should be to see how overall public money can be spent smarter and more efficiently. 

“Without reform of the way public services are paid for and delivered, we predict councils could face a further £3.3bn reduction in central government funding for local services in 2016-17 and a funding gap of £9.5bn by the end of the decade.” 

He added that devolving powers and funding to local areas, which the chancellor said progress was being made on, will allow councils to protect and improve vital services. 

“Without this, the government's aims to boost housebuilding, abolish youth unemployment and find £12bn of savings from working-age benefits cannot be achieved,” said Cllr Porter. 

Paul Martin, Solace Spokesperson for local government finance and chief executive of the London Borough of Wandsworth, added that the government continues to place local authorities at the centre of the deficit reduction programme, and therefore the skills and expertise of council chief executives and senior managers will be more important than ever in the coming spending review period. 

 Paul Dossett, head of Local Government at Grant Thornton UK LLP, who is a regular contributor to PSE, stated that we have a few months to wait and see how accurate the LGA’s forecast of £9.5bn funding reductions to local government over this Parliament will be. 

“The chancellor did, however, confirm that no in-year departmental cuts will be as severe as any year in the last Parliament, he said. “We believe the new Secretary of State will be more robust in his defence of local government spending than his predecessor.”

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