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Martin Cresswell

The Spending Review: Tough choices to make

Treasury

The social care council tax precept is good politics for George Osborne and bad politics for local government. He’s devolving the political risk of trying to keep social care functioning at a decent level. The polling is clear, nationally people haven’t registered the level of local government cuts because the expensive services councils have to deliver are for the most vulnerable. It’s also clear that without genuine progress made on collaboration and integration with the NHS then local government will struggle to keep pace with demand, even with the 2% precept coming in each year.

The reduction in funding offers local government a blunt choice; reimagine your organisation and services, or oversee the accelerated decline of them. Some of the answers are out there. Either in communities where new insights must be unearthed to help reshape services or in other organisations, be they public or private, who have been prototyping new approaches in the last five years. See Ealing and the demand management work they have done, it’s truly inspiring.

The cold reality, however, is that with a 59% reduction in central government funding over the next five years there is no one service that can be protected without damaging another. Local politicians will be forced to choose.

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