The BBC are reporting that councils are facing a further 10% cut in their budget. I don't quite recognise the BBC's figures of total council grant being £21 billion currently. I understand that it is £24 billion. Though it is bit complicated what to include. There is the Formula Grant but there are also other odds and ends – a billion here, a billion there…
There is still a bit of haggling, we are told, over the size of the cut. We are given to understand that the Communities and Local Government Secretary is being asked to accept an 11% cut.
The good news for councils is that some ring fencing is likely to end. I've already called for this with the £2.5 billion on public health. It seems to crop up quite often. Highways is another example. Spending money messing the roads up with humps – on the grounds that the council doesn't have to pay for it but cna get funding from some transport authority, etc.
The BBC report says:
"The wire-cutters are well and truly out," said one minister.
Mr Pickles is also understood to be willing to take more responsibility – and more funding – for the government's work on tackling troubled families. This is currently carried out by a range of different departments such as education and welfare.
On Wednesday Mr Pickles met Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt and Chief secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander to work through the details.
One source said: "Eric is taking quite a big hit. He has accepted a 10% cut, but he is clawing back £3bn. In terms of spending power (for councils), he can go quite a significant way to make up the 10%. He is also getting some top-slicing from other departments.
"What is happening now is that they (the Treasury) are pressing him to 11%. He is resisting. He is not going to go further than that."