Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Spending Review

Just been listening to the Statement from George Osborne. I liked the emphasis on the sector expanding its delivery role! And well done to Nick Hurd MP on securing a £100m Transition Fund to support TSOs facing immediate difficulties from cuts. Indeed the budget of OCS itself has suffered a less severe reduction than other Departments. That shows Nick's mettle as a Minister. Well done to him for that. A rising star.

Of course overall this is a difficult settlement for our sector and for our beneficiaries.

The Chancellor has set out the biggest cuts to public spending in a generation. So of course it is going to hurt.

The Spending Review, published at a few hours ago, included an average Departmental budget cuts of 19% over four years, a 28% cut to Local Government funding from Whitehall over four years, and £7 billion of cuts to the welfare bill.

These cuts will undoubtedly mean very difficult times for our sector. As Departments and Local Authorities now work through how they spend their funding allocations over the coming years, we will need to engage with them to ensure that they see the sector as a partner in achieving more for less, not a soft target for short-sighted cuts (the latter being an attitude I have found worryingly prevalent in Local Authority circles).

I have been encouraged by the growing recognition in central Government of the need for practical support for our sector in what will be testing times. I was pleased listening to his speech to the Commons, the Chancellor recognised that the cuts would be difficult for the third sector and so committed £470 million to capacity-building, including the one-year £100 million Transition Fund for third sector organisations in difficulty but with the potential to improve their ability to deliver services with some support.

The speech had a strong emphasis on public service reform, including through a greater role for the third sector in areas such as offender rehabilitation and welfare to work. It promised a consultation on the HMT Fair Deal policy on public sector pensions, which remains a big barrier to ACEVO members seizing what opportunities there are likely to be over the coming years. Given the concerns of ACEVO members working in social care, I was also encouraged by the additional £2 billion in funding for social care announced today. David Behan at the Department of Health rang me to tell me what they had achieved. This is important, though social care will still get hit by bad Councils!

We now have a fight on our hands to ensure the headline cuts announced today are implemented in partnership with our sector, and to ensure that the supportive measures announced are built upon.

So tomorrow I will be meeting with the Chief Economic Secretary to the Treasury to push for reform of Gift Aid and VAT, as central Government Departments and Local Authorities work through how they spend their funding allocations over the coming years.

Now if you want more then, you will be able to read analysis and reactions to the Spending Review on ACEVO’s website!!

Now getting all the press stuff done. What a day!

No comments: