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8th July 2015

Solace statement on the Emergency Budget

On Wednesday 8th July 2015, Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne announced his Emergency Budget 2015. This is a statement from Graeme McDonald, Director of Solace, in response:

The living wage is a policy pioneered across many councils and its broader use is to be welcomed. Local government will need support to ensure services for vulnerable children and adults are up to the challenge brought by further reductions in welfare spending, and that the push to greater home ownership amongst social tenants is backed up by a commensurate ability to supply the homes required to fulfill duties to those on housing waiting lists. To solve the housing shortage, we need to build around 250,000 homes per year – twice the amount the UK is currently building. We can only achieve this through a strong local authority leadership role in delivery.

In the longer term, we know that future cuts are on the way, and that councils’ simply continuing to take cuts to their revenue grant is not sustainable. The pressures on social care, and on housing, are not sustainable. We are looking for much progress on the reform of council tax, business rates and the devolution of powers to enable councils to make a bigger impact on productivity.

However, looking ahead to the Autumn Spending Review, this remains the real opportunity for the government to fundamentally rebalance its relationship with local government; working with us to chart our course to self-sufficiency.

Solace believes that working with, and given the flexibility by, central government, local authorities and their leaders are in a unique position to harness local potential to improve productivity, to stimulate growth and to deliver more effective public services. As conveners of key local public services, using the experience, management skills and innovation of the last five years, we can play a pivotal role in leading this change across the public sector.

Earlier Paul Martin, Solace Spokesperson for Local Government Finance and Chief Executive of the London Borough of Wandsworth, said:

“The Government continues to place local authorities at the centre of the deficit reduction programme, and therefore the skills and expertise of council Chief Executives and senior managers will be more important than ever in the coming spending review period.

“Chief Executives will need the full support of all Government departments, regulators and inspectorates as well as public sector organisations outside local government control to work with us. We now enter the second phase of deficit reduction with a track record for innovative cost reduction that is unique in UK public services.”