Posted tagged ‘underspend’

The politics of an ever decreasing budget

June 9, 2011

But the worst is still to come

Prior to the local government elections in May there was a popular conceit running around the British press. This went something along the lines of:

‘Members of the public will only really get their head around the cuts once they start to really hit in April 2011.’

This in turn led to the general sense that the Government had survived the worst of the ‘cuts backlash’ when they, or at least the Conservative Party, got through the local elections unscathed. The commentators were, in this case, wrong.

I don’t want to argue that the cuts have not come. There have been cuts, and in some places the cuts have been quite heavy. I talk to colleagues/friends in the third sector who have seen quite large cuts in funding and some councils have been quite vocal about the cuts they need to make.

However, the cuts in April 2011 were in many ways just a prelude to what is yet to come. The reasons are multiple but most of it has to do with the way the local government budget works and the way the cuts were structured.

The announcement of the cuts was not made until October 2011.

This left local authorities less than three or four months to put their budget in place. Some had been prepared for the scale of the cuts but most of them were surprised by the front loading and the depth of the cuts in years one and two.

So what did some councils do?

(more…)