The New Local Government Network has urged the Government to continue with the total place projects. It also wants greater budget freedom for councils so that they can realize the full scope of potential efficiencies.
The NLGN has calculated that councils will have to cut £1.2billion from this year’s budgets according to the revised spending plans published by the Chancellor. This will result in a 15% cut to the funding they had been awarded, through Specific Grants and Area Based Grant, in the 2010/11 Local Government Grant Settlement in November 2009.
Although ring-fencing will be removed from other grants, allowing councils greater freedom and flexibility in deciding how to spend their money, the result could be a cut in front line services. Areas under threat from the cuts could include schemes to tackle youth crime, support for early year childcare and tackling homelessness. Overall local government will shoulder over a sixth of the £6.2bn of cuts announced across government for 2010/11.
The NLGN is concerned that the devolution promised in the revised spending plans should not merely become an excuse to delegate the responsibility for making service cuts, but that it should lead to a significant reduction in ring-fencing.