LGA submits Budget demands
Council chiefs will today send a list of Spending Review demands to chancellor George Osborne ahead of this month’s Budget.
Officers from the Local Government Association have assembled a list of issues for discussion with the Treasury and other major Whitehall departments on Government spending plans for 2015/16 - the first year after the election.
It is understood Sir Merrick Cockell, chairman of the LGA, decided to send an early submission because Cabinet discussions on the next spending review are already taking place – amid strong indications spending cutbacks will follow the trajectory set in 2010’s allocation.
This would leave local government budgets facing the biggest squeeze, economics think tank the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) calculated last month. The IFS warned DCLG would get Whitehall's worst settlement because it had previously agreed larger-than-average cuts to its resource cash budget in the 2010 spending review.
As part of their lobbying efforts, the LGA will ‘seize the opportunity’ to push its ambitions for growth and housing, community budgets, freedoms over local taxes, social care funding and the transition to Universal Credit and other welfare reforms.
LGA officials hope to make representations at the highest levels of government to make their case once the timetable for the next spending round - due to report before the summer recess – is known.
Discussions would also involve officials rom the DCLG, the Department for Health, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Department for Education, who are involved in talks with chief secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander.
Highlighting one element of Smith Square’s spending review demands, Cllr Mike Jones, chairman of the LGA’s environment and housing board today urged the Treasury to relax the government’s housing borrowing cap to permit the building of up to 60,000 new homes.
‘Given the pressing need for more housing and the relative safety of the investment, it makes no sense for government to place this extra restriction on local authorities,’ Cllr Jones said.
‘The country desperately needs more housing, developers need investment and our flatling economy is in urgent needs of a shot in the arm. The Chancellor could deliver all three by using his Budget to give councils the financial autonomy to embark on an ambitious house building programme,’ Cllr Jones added.
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