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IfG: Budget needs ‘tough and urgent’ policies on schools and social care

Central government spending props up failing services and does not deal with underlying problems, a new study has suggested.

The ‘Performance Tracker’ – published today by the Institute for Government (IfG) and the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) – reported that, amongst other priorities, schools and social care must be addressed in the upcoming Autumn Budget.

Despite emergency cash injections for schools, the report concluded that the government must either increase spending or set out the basis on which it believes institutions can continue on current levels.

The extra £1.3bn that education secretary Justine Greening allocated from other areas of her department’s budget has reportedly allowed the government to complete its manifesto promises, but shows that initial financial planning for the sector must be adapted going forward.

Similarly, an additional £2bn over three years was allotted to adult social care spending in this year’s Spring Budget in order to maintain the current system. However, in spite of signs that the system is stabilising, with the number of delayed transfers of care no longer rising, problems still persist.

The IfG and CIPFA suggested that the government use the upcoming Budget to clarify issues around social care, such as who is responsible for it and who should pay for it.

“The chancellor has little scope for manoeuvre in the upcoming Budget,” said the report. “The choices open to him are getting narrower by the day, with weak economic forecasts and the challenge of budgeting for Brexit. Meanwhile, the debate over police numbers and the public sector pay rumbles on.

“In services such as prisons and hospitals, the chancellor has no choice but to spend more. When it comes to schools and adult social care, the government as a whole must make tough and increasingly urgent policy decisions.”

The document also deals with government cuts on local services, for example across refuse collection. There is recognition of the “successful efficiencies” local authorities have made in services, but fears that a lack of data surrounding this sector will make it difficult to continue sustainable reductions.

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