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Reduction in Government Spending – at whose expense?

Posted by
22 Jan 2014

At the end of last year, the government announced that councils across England would face a further spending cut of 3% in the year 2014-2015. This will vary across different areas within the country, with the Director of the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives claiming that some authorities will face cuts as high as 6.9%, thus creating one of the biggest financial challenges facing local government yet.

With funding being reduced last year, we saw millions of people living in areas where their councils were forced to close children's centres, libraries, museums and sport centres. We are also seeing a rising demand for adult social care, which is ultimately impacting and putting pressure on councils nationwide.

Local Government Association analysis shows that the current financial position of most councils is unsustainable, with council leaders arguing that unless steps are taken to fix local government's current financial instability, councils will inevitably fail their communities due to no longer being able to provide key services to the public.

We are arguably starting to see the idea of these 'failing communities' with the recent episode of flooding across the country. The Guardian reported nearly 300 flood defence schemes across England had been left unbuilt due to government budget cuts. With flooding increasing and spending decreasing, there is a serious worry across the affected areas. The Environment Agency recorded that 294 flood defence projects that had symptomatic funding in 2010 received no funding at all.

So where does the blame lie? I think it hard to tell; local authorities are doing as much as they can with the funding they are given. If we continue to reduce the spending of local authorities, we as the people are ultimately being affected. Therefore local authorities are being pressured by both the government and by the people in our society - the question is where do we go from here?

How do you think budget cuts will affect 2014; will councils continue to be forced to shut down key services, or will we reach a point where they can afford to continue? Leave your thoughts and comments below.

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