George Osborne has revealed £230m will be cut from the Department for Communities and Local Government’s (DCLG) spending budget this year, as part of £3bn saving measures.
The chancellor today announced unprotected departments across Whitehall would be required to find average spending reductions of 3% this year, in what the Treasury is describing as a ‘significant first step’ toward finding further savings.
A total of £3bn will be saved from departments over 2015-16 though efficiencies, tighter budget controls to drive underspends and the pushing through of asset sales.
DCLG confirmed that it had raised more funds through sale of public sector land owned by the department than previously anticipated, easing the level of savings required.
The department added that today’s announcement would not result in further cuts for local authorities.
Speaking in the Commons, Osborne admitted these were not ‘easy decisions’ but emphasised the measures would ‘deliver lasting economic security’.
However Cllr David Sparks, chair of the Local Government Association, told the BBC the budget reductions were ‘completely unnecessary’.
Non-school based sections of the education budget will be required to find £450m of savings, while the Department for Transport will face £545m savings demands – buoyed by the £345m sale of land around King’s Cross, London.
The Department for Work and Pensions saw £105m stripped from its budget and Environment, Food and Rural Affairs £83m.
The Government today also confirmed it would also sell its remaining 30% stake in Royal Mail at its current market value of circa £1.5bn.
Osborne said: ‘Further savings in departments this year – and selling our stake in the Royal Mail.
‘Getting on with what we promised. Reducing the deficit – that is how you deliver lasting economic security for working people.
‘For as everyone knows, when it comes to living within your means, the sooner you start the smoother the ride.’