The Times this morning reports (£) that the Communities and Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles is among cabinet ministers "resisting" George Osborne’s "attempts to find an extra £10 billion savings in 2015-16." Itt suggests "a further 7.2 per cent in 2015-16" to the DCLG budget above what was expected.
The report adds:
Sources close to Mr Pickles made clear that he was not accepting the latest reductions, arguing that council services had already been cut to the bone.
However I have been told this morning that Mr Pickles does not believe services have been "cut to the bone." That on the contrary he still believe that is substantial scope to got further in achieving savings – with shared services being just one obvious example.
Less money for the DCLG primarily means less money in grants to town halls.
It is perfectly obvious that further spending cuts are needed. The public finances remain in the most atrocious state. Councils should make no complaint about assisting in the patriotic duty to pull the nation back from the brink of bankruptcy. What Mr Pickles and local councillors are entitled to ask is that other government departments should make an equivalent contribution.