In short this story shows austerity is nothing new to local government it has been the norm, in my experience, for years. It therefore seems hard to see just how much more local government can drive down costs without performance being seriously compromised and by this I mean increased risks. This is important as local government will be the arena where cuts are most keenly felt. Take this post on the excellent Fighting Monsters Blog. The example given is of ILF payments being affected. These are, very sketchily put, where central government assists with funding for people under 65 living in the community, but who have needs above the threshold for residential care. By scaling this back more pressure is put on local authorities. I make a similar point in an earlier post on the resilience of public spending; the bottom-line is that the needs will still need to be met; the state being unable to walk away from instances of need which would otherwise go unmet. In this case it therefore means funding must be diverted from elsewhere by the local authority. In other words the ultimate responsibility for making the required cut is downloaded from central government to the local authority. The luxury for central government is it can then distance itself from making real, tangible cuts and also importantly absolve itself of responsibility when services do break down. Add to this the prospect of a council tax freeze and Local Government is in a very. very tight spot indeed.
2 months ago