Due to the continuing uncertainty caused by Covid-19, Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak MP, has decided to postpone the three-year Comprehensive Spending Review. Instead a one-year Spending Review will be held, setting the government department's resource and capital budgets for 2021-22. Grants for devolved administrations will also be set for 2021-22.
The only departments to receive multi-year settlements will be education (schools in particular), the Department of Health, and infrastructure spend.
The Chancellor has outlined three priorities for the Review which include:
- Providing departments with the certainty they need to tackle Covid-19 and deliver our Plan for Jobs to support employment;
- Giving our vital public services enhanced support to continue to fight against the virus alongside delivering first class frontline services; and
- Investing in infrastructure to deliver our ambitious plans to unite and level up the country, drive our economic recovery and Build Back Better.”
CFG’s joint submission as part of the #NeverMoreNeeded campaign asked for the long-term financial sustainability of local authorities to be strengthened with additional core government funding, and to establish a UK Shared Prosperity Fund that invests in employment and skills programmes aimed at addressing economic inequalities within and between communities.
While not included in the Chancellor’s announcement, CFG would hope that this would also include further information on the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF), as time is fast running out for the government to announce what will replace current EU funding.
It’s now been a full five years since we had a full three-year Comprehensive Spending Review in 2015. It’s difficult to see how another one-year review can provide the long-term certainty and ability for local authorities, communities and public services to plan for ‘levelling up’. It is of particular concern given the increasing numbers of Local Authorities approaching bankruptcy and public services at breaking point, while facing the increase in demand that a huge increase in unemployment will bring.
While it’s understandable that the immediate focus is on Covid-19, the real impact of the pandemic is not confirmed to the short term and there are a number of critical funding issues that will not be addressed in a one year settlement.
We will provide more information on the day of the review itself, including a briefing on all the relevant announcements, which according to the Chancellor will be held in “the last weeks of November”.
If you have any questions on matters of policy, please email the CFG policy team.
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