Mitigating the impact of local government cuts on poorer households

Understanding The True Cost of Austerity

The research

Research by Professors Annette Hastings, Nick Bailey and Dr Maria Gannon demonstrated that pro-poor services experience a disproportionate share of budget cuts.

Their analysis of three years of the savings plans of all Scottish councils conclusively showed that the largest proportion of savings (45%) came from pro-poor services.

The study highlighted that many councils were keen to protect those services relied upon by poorer groups, but lacked the necessary evidence and tools.

Council leaders sought a means to legitimate the active protection of poorer households from budget cuts, but they lacked the means to assess the impacts of budgetary decisions on the services used by poorer social groups.

The impact

Working with Birmingham City Council, The UofG team developed a Social Impact Tool, which can be used to assess the impact of cuts on services used proportionately more by poorer groups.

It enables local authorities to analyse and visualise their savings plans, which they can use to inform the budget-setting process.

The Tool consists of an interactive Excel workbook, pre-populated with financial data for all Scottish and English local authorities. It has been updated annually since 2015.

Over half of all Scottish and over a quarter of all English councils have downloaded the Social Impact Tool since 2015, enabling them to better understand and mitigate the impact of cuts on services used by poorer groups.

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First published: 2 June 2021