A staggering amount of money has been taken out of local government over the last four years, a figure amounting to well over a third of council income since 2010.
Despite the scale of the challenge local authorities have managed to respond well, working creatively to do more with less and in Crawley we are determined to find ways of increasing the council’s income, not simply hacking away at services.
Yet there’s always a trade off, things which don’t get done because the money is no longer there and the personal cost to all those involved. So when we hear of the ways in which central government has thrown money away there is some justifiable anger amongst local authorities who have had to make the sorts of sacrifices they have not.
The Government’s inability to get to grips with Universal Credit has so far cost the taxpayer £600m with no end in sight, poorly-thought out welfare reforms such as the Bedroom Tax have kicked people out of council housing and into the private sector pushing up housing benefit costs, and the race-to-the-bottom jobs market means that tax credits are now taking a huge chunk extra out of the Treasury.
New figures suggest that the Cost of Living crisis has become a significant problem for the nation’s finances alongside household budgets. Putting aside the personal costs workers have faced, over the last four years the failure to tackle the Cost of Living has meant that between lost tax revenue, lost National Insurance contributions and increased welfare payments the Government is £116.5bn pounds worse off when compared to earlier projections.
The simple lack of common sense involved in the Government’s approach to cuts has meant that they have failed even to meet even their own targets at cutting the deficit and caused untold pain in the process.
We have been told that “we’re all in this together”, I guess the question is that if that is the case, how can it be that at a time when everyone else is making sacrifices the Government can find that amount of money to waste?