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Ealing and Northfield

Pressure off – slightly

Today the Chancellor announced that council grants would be reduced by 7.1% per annum for four years. This will be excruciatingly hard for our council and other councils to work with. At the same time most ring fences (pesky central government meddling by another name) will be removed which should make the transition a lot more manageable for councils.

In June the council did a piece of work to look forward at its financial position and assumed a 10% cut in grant for three years and no increase in council tax. This gave rise to a 27% central government cut over three years, a sensibly harsh assumption at that time, which gave them a £53 million savings target to tackle over the same three year period.

It looks like the government will be asking for slightly less in four years rather than three. The council can at least now plan for dealing with this transition. It should think long and hard. The changes it needs to make must be strategic and must focus on the back office not the front line.

The first tranche of the council’s savings looked uninspiring and tactical. The Albert Dane decision that the opposition challenged last night was typical of how not to do it. Rather than mindlessly slashing the council needs to work out how to re-provide services. It has the time to do it.

2 replies on “Pressure off – slightly”

Phil

How do you see the cuts on the central housing budget affecting social housebuilding in Ealing?

The target is for 14,000 dwellings. Do you think that will change?

I hope you will do an article on this.

George,

You are confusing two things: the council’s own LDF which talks about additional homes of all kinds in the borough and the whole issue of social housing.

If you remember correctly Alistair Darling halved the country’s capital programme and at the budget George Osborne said he would not take any more out but would prioritise economically productive investment such as transport. Between then and now he has actually added £2 billion to the capital programme. Unfortunately direct investment in social housing has been deemed less economically productive so it has been hit hard.

That said the government is aiming to change the whole social housing system so that higher rents for new tenants can be retained by councils so that they can invest in new social housing with the aim of building 150,000 homes. Same aim, different route.

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