Serving Deprived Communities in a Recession - project report published

Issued: Tue, 03 Dec 2013 16:01:00 GMT

The latest report has been published from this JRF-funded research project which examines how local authorities are managing the cuts to their budgets as a result of the 2010 Comprehensive Spending Review and subsequent local government financial settlements. The report Coping with the cuts? Local government and poorer communities reveals that deprived councils across England and Scotland are seeing larger cuts to budgets - of around £100 per head. Local government spending (excluding police, schools, housing benefit) is set to fall by nearly 30% in real terms between 2008 and 2015 in England, while Scotland will see a 24% reduction. The research analyses the scale and pattern of cuts in spending on local government in England and Scotland since 2010. It also includes detailed analysis of the approaches taken by three case study councils (Newcastle, Coventry and Milton Keynes).

In the case studies, substantial savings have been generated by a range of 'efficiency' programmes (including the loss of many ‘back room’ jobs). But the report warns opportunities to identify further such savings are rapidly diminishing. ‘Efficiency’ strategies are increasingly being replaced by strategies which will impact directly on front-line services. A ‘retrenchment’ of local government services is underway – councils will be delivering or supporting fewer services and those services which continue may be targeted more narrowly on the most vulnerable and disadvantaged groups only. People will be expected to do more for themselves – from running leisure centres or caring for elderly neighbours to picking up litter.

The report attracted substantial media attention, with coverage in the Guardian, Independent, Mirror and Herald, plus BBC Radio Scotland and local radio stations. Both the Minister and Shadow Ministers for Communities and Local Government commented on the research. Indeed, a rebuttal has been issued to the Minister's response.

The research is being conducted by the Universities of Glasgow and Heriot Watt. Annette Hastings, Nick Bailey and Maria Gannon are in Urban Studies at the School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Glasgow. Glen Bramley, Kirsten Besemer and David Watkins are at the School of the Built Environment, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh.

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