Councils across Britain are on the brink of implementing difficult financial decisions. It is thought that Southend Borough Council will have to save up to £28 million.
The Governments Spending Review will be published on 20th October and this will set out how much money council departments will be allocated. The Spending Review is a process which allocates resources across all government departments which are linked to the Government’s priorities. Spending reviews set fixed budgets over several years for each department. It is then up to each department to decide spending within that area. This spending review will cover four years.
On 20th October the Chancellor will make a speech and present the review to Parliament. It is hoped that in four to five years Government spending will be £83bn lower as a result of cuts.
This country has a huge debt which needs to be paid off as a result of public borrowing being, currently at an all time high. Under the previous government billions of pounds were spent which was just not sustainable.
But these cuts do not have to mean poor local services. The coalition government has decided that in order to address this debt, certain changes need to be implemented.
A Localism Bill will allow local communities to take over rural pubs and post offices. Councils will be encouraged to be innovative with how services are provided and run. For example, Westminster and Hammersmith and Fulham Councils are planning to merge their education departments to save money.
There are consultations taking place up and down the country which are asking residents which services they value most and where savings can me made. For example, Dartford Council were told that 90 per cent of residents wanted to keep their weekly bin collections and so the council kept the service but shared the service with Sevenoaks.
Councils are also being encouraged to be much more accountable and open to their community by putting their spending on line so people can see exactly where tax payer’s money is going.
For now it is about thinking about what councils can do in partnership or shouldn’t be doing at all.