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Spending Review to focus on Covid-19 support

by: Emma Lunn
  • 21/10/2020
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The government has scrapped the multi-year spending review and is holding a one-year review at the end of November, focusing on the response to Covid-19.

 

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said the decision was taken to focus on supporting jobs, setting departmental resources and capital budgets for 2021-22, and the devolved administrations’ block grants for the same period.

The government statement said multi-year NHS and schools’ resource settlements will be fully funded, as will priority infrastructure projects.

The government previously stated that it would keep plans for the Spending Review under review given the uncertainty of Covid-19.

The Spending Review will focus on three areas:

  • Providing departments with the certainty they need to tackle Covid-19 and deliver the government’s Plan for Jobs to support employment.
  • Giving vital public services enhanced support to continue to fight against the virus.
  • Investing in infrastructure.

Sunak said: “In the current environment it’s essential that we provide certainty. So we’ll be doing that for departments and all of the nations of the United Kingdom by setting budgets for next year, with a total focus on tackling Covid and delivering our Plan for Jobs.

“Long term investment in our country’s future is the right thing to do, especially in areas which are the cornerstone of our society like the NHS, schools and infrastructure.”

The date for the review will be confirmed shortly but it will be in the last weeks of November.

 

LGA unhappy

However, the Local Government Association (LGA) is not happy with the one-year Spending Review, or its timing.

LGA chairman James Jamieson said: “It is hugely disappointing that councils will only get a one-year funding settlement for the third year in a row.

“This makes it incredibly difficult for them to plan how to provide local services our communities rely on and which have proved so vital during the pandemic, including public health, adult social care, children’s services, homelessness support, and help for those in financial hardship.

“We urge the government to publish this Spending Review as soon as possible as the end of November is incredibly late for councils to find out how much money they will have to provide services next year.

“Councils will face a £4bn funding gap next year just to keep services running at today’s levels and need urgent certainty about how to set budgets and to plan any measures they may be forced to take to cut spending.

“Before the Spending Review is announced, the government must confirm that the resources councils have this year will not reduce and there will be no business rates reset next year,” he added.

 

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