It is one thing to set a budget, another to keep within it. Conservative and Labour politicians both find it convenient, for different, reasons to maintain the fiction that public spending is falling. Lazy journalists repeat the mantra. The inconvenient truth is that spending is going up. In October last year it was £49.2 billion. Last month £52.8 billion. Spending was also up in September on the previous September (from £50.6 billion to £52.5 billion.) Also in August on the previous August (from £52.2 billion to £53.5 billion.)
This does not mean that there have been not been cuts in some areas. In local government spending is down. It is also encouraging that a report by the Institute for Government says that the civil service is shrinking.
"The Department for Communities and Local Government are still the department which has cut the most from their Whitehall figures since the Spending Review… DCLG have cut their core dept by 32.5 per cent FTE since the Spending Review."
By contrast other departments – such as the Department of Energy and Climate Change and the Department for International Development are employing more civil servants.
The objection from local councils that they are doing their bit in finding savings while other bits of the public are failing to do so has some validity. Bromley Council has passed a motion criticising increased spending on the EU budget at a time where their Government funding is being cut by 28%. A fair point.
At least Eric Pickles and his colleagues at the DCLG can look council leaders in the eye.