A piece in this week's Economist highlights the pain which local councils are liable to feel on the back of the recession.
It suggests that the constraints are likely to be four-fold:
- Central government may cut next year's grants (despite being the third year of a previously-agreed three-year grant settlement) and will certainly be less generous in the following three-year deal;
- Councils' income is down since less is coming in from investments as interest rates hit 0.5%, an increase in the number of the unemployed means more people qualify for means-tested council tax exemptions and a stalled property market means less money comes in from charges made when planning permission is granted;
- The recession means fewer people are spending money on council-run leisure or parking facilities; and
- Council spending will inevitably rise as children are transferred from independent to state schools and demand for social housing rises.
All of which paints quite a depressing picture for those running councils around the country.
Dare I suggest they might look for savings among the 100 ways suggested here by Harry Phibbs just a couple if months ago?