Last week I and many thousands of councillors across the country called for the Prime Minster to tell the Chancellor to take action to reverse the impact of Tory austerity on locally delivered public services.
This week in his budget the Chancellor’s response was weak and unconvincing.
By the end of 2020 the city council will have seen almost £100 million of central government funding cut from what it spends each year to provide the services that local people elect us to deliver.
Early analysis of the benefits of the budget to the city is that around £4 million of that £100 million will be returned to us to spend on crucial services to support the vulnerable in our city.
We won’t see the level of funding returned to its pre-2010 levels it appears, despite “the end of Tory austerity”.
Our schools, instead of seeing dramatic funding rises to avoid class size increases and teaching staff redundancies were only offered a few thousands each.
This is despite estimates that total school spending per pupil has fallen by 8 per cent in real terms between 2010 and 2018.
This is an affront to our hard-working teaching staff and an insult to the pupils who have to face the impacts of these austerity cuts on their futures.
We are only seeing 50 per cent of the money saved under austerity returned to those universal credit recipients who have suffered so much to pay for the painful and unnecessary Tory welfare experiment.
Now you may say that I’m all misery and not ever happy but I’d just like to make clear that one announcement really met our expectations – the removal of the housing spending cap will allow us to enlarge and accelerate our plans for building truly affordable council-owned accommodation for those on our housing register.
We have been held back in our ambitions for too long by this enforced limit on our borrowing and I’m delighted that we can now start making progress to get council housing built more swiftly and on a greater scale than our previous plans. I’ve already asked officers to move full steam ahead.
I had my fingers crossed for the end of austerity – I haven’t uncrossed them yet.
Councillor Daniel Yates is the Labour leader of Brighton and Hove City Council.
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