In councils the length and breadth of the country, regardless of their political persuasion, the last week or so has been all about the autumn statement.
After 12 years of economic mismanagement and austerity cuts that have harmed so many, the disastrous Kwarteng/Truss mini budget sent the UK economy spiralling into a further £30 billion black hole, which Jeremy Hunt was tasked with hauling us all out of.
So, we waited with bated breath to hear his proposals, most of us with no real expectation that yet another in the long line of terrible Tory chancellors would have any new ideas, and many leaks suggesting we would be in line for Austerity 2.0 on steroids.
And then we spent a day or two poring over the detail, trying to digest what it might mean locally and finding that, yes, that’s pretty much what we got.
Hunt confirmed that we were in recession and likely to be so for some time and continued to blame everything and everyone else – led by favourite scapegoats Russia and the pandemic – for our economic woes.
Not that covid and the terrible situation in Ukraine haven’t had an economic impact worldwide, of course.
But it is telling that despite that despite that, we are the only country in the G7 with an economy smaller than before the pandemic, and the one with worst financial forecast over the next two years.
Labour is in no doubt that the terrible shape our economy is in was made right here at home, by the Conservatives – they crashed the economy, but it’s all of us being made to pay for it.
On the council, already dealing with funding losses of over £100 million per year in real terms since 2010, swingeing increases in fuel costs and overall inflation were punching holes in our budget plans even before Kwarteng’s catastrophic interventions and got exponentially worse after.
So, we really needed the Chancellor to pull some financial rabbits out of his hat to keep essential services going, as well as help our many residents struggling to heat, eat or survive the current crisis.
The only possible salvation is the Local Government Finance Settlement 2022 that is due next month, which we all now move on to waiting for.
If that turns out to contain a miraculous Conservative about-turn on austerity, it could transform things – but I won’t be holding my breath.
Councillor Amanda Evans is the deputy leader of the Labour opposition on Brighton and Hove City Council.
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