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Spending Review 2019 - The Implications for Public Services

Briefing Paper

The Spending Review of 2019 was announced by Sajid Javid, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, on 4th September 2019. The statement sets departmental budgets for just one year rather than the usual three years, due to uncertainty over the impact of Brexit.

Sajid Javid outlined £13.8billion of investment in areas including health, education and the police in what he said was the fastest increase in spending for fifteen years. He said that:

"No department will be cut next year. Every single department has had its budget for day to day spending increased at least in line with inflation. That's what I mean by the end of austerity."

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The Houses of Parliament where the Spending Review was presented on 4th September 2019

The purpose of this briefing paper is to summarise the spending review’s implications for public services and to provide some commentary. It includes sections on:

  • Economic Context
  • Local Government: General
  • Local Government: Social Care
  • Housing
  • Education
  • National Health Service
  • Police
  • Prisons
  • Economic Development
  • Reactions to the Spending Review
  • Financial Management

I conclude that while the spending review provides additional resources for public services, this is generally not enough to replace the resources lost during the years of ‘austerity’ or to meet the needs of a growing and ageing population. Furthermore, some important services, notably housing, appear to have been neglected.

However, my biggest concern is that the government is basing the public finances on outdated economic forecasts, short-term planning and borrowing to fund increased expenditure and reduced taxation. I doubt if this will prove an effective strategy. It runs the risk of making the United Kingdom government insolvent and our public services unsustainable in the long-term.

A County Councillor who read the briefing paper wrote to me to say:

"Thanks Adrian. Thorough coverage here. Well done!"

To view or download your free copy of the full briefing paper, please click here.

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