There are 3 item(s) tagged with the keyword "cop 26".
Local government is compelled to focus on the immediate problems staring it in the face, the impact of the cuts of the last decade can’t be forgotten. However, longer-term issues that require investment need to also be considered before they creep up and get past the point where they are resolvable.
Looking at revenue firstly, the announcements in the Comprehensive Spending Review were welcomed, £4.8B additional grant over 3 years plus the ability to raise a further £3.7B through council tax and precepts over the period. However, looking at the pressures on the sector with rising demand, inflation, pay increases and the impact of the national insurance rise then in reality this probably equates to at best a standstill position.
APSE’s Local Government Commission 2030 called for a longer-term settlement whilst fair funding was addressed, immediate moves to tackle the social care funding crisis, an end to competitive bidding pots and reform of business rates. Progress is being made but we all know that it hasn’t gone far enough, or fast enough, to resolve the systemic problems of finance, and it remains unclear as to whether fair funding will ever be reviewed!
It may have taken sometime but at last the UK Government has revealed its Net Zero strategy to cut the country’s carbon emissions by 78% by 2035 and to net zero by 2050. In the lead up to COP26 it will give Ministers the opportunity to portray the UK as one of the leading lights when it comes to tackling climate change, but when the dust settles, after the flurry of announcements, will the plan add up or will it fall short?
Much of what has been announced is welcome but it still leaves a number of unanswered questions, as to how the programme will be funded and a concern that yet again local government’s ability to play a key role in delivering such an important policy agenda, has been underplayed.
Whilst the strategy recognises that local government has a key role to play, its not clear as to what Government thinks this role is. What additional powers councils will receive! And, most importantly, whether any additional funding will come through the system to support delivery on the ground.
Connecting the route map to that outlined by the UK Committee on Climate Change, in its sixth carbon budget, is most definitely the correct approach to take - something that we at APSE have argued for over the past few years. Many councils have already forged ahead and focused their own strategies to meet their net zero declarations using this methodology, so perhaps we are really starting to see the beginning of some much needed joined up thinking at a national and local policy level.
Local government faces a triumvirate of hugely important announcements in the coming months which will have major ramifications for its role, responsibilities and resources in the short, mid and long term.
By the end of October, the Chancellor should have announced the findings of a three-year Comprehensive Spending Review, setting out the UK’s priorities for public spending. At present spending departments are submitting proposals to Treasury as to how they intend to tackle a raft of public policy conundrums as well as deliver public services over the period to meet need. Treasury’s role is to identify synergy across Government priorities to maximise the spending of limited resources.
Concern remains for local government over the potential focus on headline capturing capital announcements while the revenue that so many of the frontline services rely on continues to deteriorate. For councils, the pressure also continues to build on covid recovery, reshaping our high streets, digital transformation, the care economy and the housing crisis, to name just a few headaches.