Is it enough?

The budget was more generous than many expected, but with huge challenges after a decade of austerity, a pandemic and looming crises will be it enough? Questions remain about levelling up and social care, too. We’ve gathered resources to explain the UK budget and explore the issues that could burn more holes in council pockets.

Image by Kelvin Stuttard from Pixabay

Show me the money: budget, spending review and analysis

As our Chief Executive Jonathan Carr-West said on budget day:

“The Chancellor’s budget proved more generous than expected for many.

Local government in the UK will be pleased that a key sector demand has been listened to as we finally have a multi-year settlement that allows for better long term planning for councils.

Grant increases of £1.6bn per year for the next three years and a 3% increase in core spending power, do not undo a decade of cuts but they are a step in the right direction. However, we should never forget that this 3% increase depends on councils taking the political risk of increasing council tax to the maximum permitted extent.

Social care costs will continue to rise, especially given the announcement of an increase in the minimum wage. That will eat into most, if not all, of a 3% increase in spending power. And, it’s still far from clear when the benefit of national insurance contribution increases will be felt across social care.

The wait continues for the Government’s much anticipated Levelling Up White Paper. And, for those who believe that levelling up can only succeed in partnership with local government, there was little grounds for optimism in this budget which continues to be allocated through bid funding and regional and sub regional authorities getting the largest chunks of it.

After over a decade of austerity, local government has learned to take nothing for granted and to read the small print very carefully. Nonetheless, a sector that was braced for more pain will be feeling this afternoon that things could have been worse.”

Our budget bundle looks at what was in the budget for local government and communities and provides analysis around the wider issues.

A look beyond the headlines

This briefing looks in more depth at some of the funding implications for local government from the Autumn 2021 Budget and Spending Review and complements other LGIU coverage of the Budget including briefings on the economic and fiscal impact, and the implications for local economic growth and placemaking.

Implications for local growth

Our follow up briefing looks more closely at the implications of the budget and spending review on placemaking and local economic growth and how it may link to levelling up.

Levelling up

Our levelling up bundle provides the context and asks the questions about what levelling up means for local government and includes our paper On the Level including the key principles any levelling up white paper should include.

Green budgets

This briefing deals with the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) 2021 Green Budget and we also covered the New Economics Foundations Greening Public Finance in a swift readOctober’s Think Tank Review also covered the latest thinking on climate and local government spending.