‘Chancellor’s one-year spending review must deal with the real risks’

After the announcement by Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sajid Javid, that there won't now be a comprehensive spending review, North Yorkshire County Council is calling for clear and positive action to tackle the biggest pressures facing local government.

North Yorkshire chief executive Richard Flinton

The last Comprehensive Spending Review has been anticipated for some time – the last one was in 2015 - and one was due in 2019. The reviews usually allocate spending for a two to four year period and help councils to plan their budget several years ahead – which is particularly critical given the large scale reductions in spending power local government has suffered in recent years.

In North Yorkshire alone, by 2021/22 the authority will have delivered in the region of £200 million in savings - that’s an overall reduction of nearly 40 per cent in its spending power since 2011.

Responding to the Chancellor’s announcement Richard Flinton, Chief Executive North Yorkshire County Council said: “We have a new Prime Minister and new Chancellor of the Exchequer so it is unsurprising that the planned Comprehensive Spending Review is no longer taking place. However, there is a real risk in the announcement of a one-year review for councils if the Government does not use this opportunity to address the serious pressures that we face. 

“Firstly, the Chancellor needs to provide the individual grants that Government has made over recent years to apply sticking plasters to funding problems on a continuous basis. However, it also needs to go beyond that to help local government manage the continuously increasing pressures on our budgets and services. 

“There are growing numbers of older people in the county requiring more expensive packages of care to help support them which needs additional funding.  The care system is creaking and the Chancellor needs to recognise this crisis. We spend about 40 per cent of our overall budget – almost £250m – on public health and adult social care and demand is rising.

“We have also seen a major increase in the numbers of young people with special educational needs who need support. In North Yorkshire we face a £5.5m high needs overspend in the current financial year and this will only increase in the future.

“Councils need to be funded adequately for this growth in order to ensure that young people can have their needs met and the opportunities that they deserve without other local services being crushed by this escalating demand.”

This story was published 12 August 2019