APSE's (Association for Public Service Excellence) response to the Spending Review.
Local government is at the heart of communities, critical to how the UK responds to the pandemic, but today’s Spending Review, announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak, has indicated the scant regard with which council frontline services are viewed. Whilst there is something of a bonanza, for NHS and defence spending, it is clear the Chancellor does not hold local council services with the same level of affection. The £3 BN announced for local councils is short-changing those that continue to be fundamental to the response to the ongoing pandemic, coping with huge increases in demand on services and the associated exponential costs.
Whilst we welcome the bidding pots for ‘levelling up’ this will not direct a penny more into revenue streams which councils desperately need. There is no point in local vanity projects if they cannot be maintained in the longer-term by fundamentally rethinking how we resource and finance councils. Too many big issues have been kicked down the road; from funding social care to developing local green economies. Once again councils are treated to a short term fix of funding without the longer-term structural changes and financial certainty that, as a critical part of the public sector, they deserve.
As to the public sector pay freeze? Are we seriously suggesting that people who bury the dead or feed the vulnerable or help the homeless off the streets are lesser key workers than those with an NHS logo on their pay slip? This is not about the politics of envy, setting public to private or public to NHS workers against each other but basic decency. Council workers have risen to the challenge and this will feel like a kick in the teeth to many of them.
APSE (Association for Public Service Excellence) is a not-for-profit local government organisation working with over 300 councils across the UK.