The Chancellor Philip Hammond has suggested council services such as social care could benefit from a Brexit deal dividend – if an exit deal can be reached with the European Union.
Delivering his Spring Statement today, Mr Hammond confirmed the planned Spending Review will start before the summer, conclude alongside the Autumn budget and include three-year departmental budgets.
But he warned this depends on a deal to leave the EU being agreed in the near future.
Mr Hammond said: “I can confirm today that assuming Brexit deal is agreed over the next few weeks and the uncertainty that is hanging over our economy is lifted, I intend to launch a full three-year spending review before the summer recess to be concluded alongside an Autumn budget.
“It will set departmental budgets beyond the NHS to reflect the public’s priorities between areas like social care. Local government, schools, police defence and the environment. It will maximise value for taxpayers’ money through a renewed focus on high-quality outcomes.”
“If we leave the EU with a deal and an orderly transition to a future economic partnership, we will see a deal dividend… giving us a nation real choices as we use the spending review to decide how much of this deal dividend we can prudently release - and how we would share it between increase spending on public services, capital investment in Britain’s future prosperity and keeping taxes low.”
Responding to the Spring Statement, chairman of the Local Government Association Gary Porter (Con) said he was disappointed the Chancellor did not provide further “desperately-needed” funding for council services.
“The money local government has to maintain the services our communities rely on is running out fast and huge uncertainty remains about how local services will be paid for into the next decade,” he added.
Lord Porter warned the publication of the spending review alongside the Autumn budget could “severely hamper” councils’ ability to plan for the following financial year and called for it to be published earlier.
“Brexit cannot be a distraction from the challenges facing our public services,” he added.
Chairman of the County Councils Network Paul Carter (Con) said he was pleased that Mr Hammond confirmed the planned Spending Review settlement would last three years.
But he added a £3.2bn funding gap faced by counties meant the ”long-term outlook is particularly bleak”.
“It is important that the Spending Review truly spells the end of austerity for local government, providing longer term funding certainty while equipping county authorities with the powers and the resources they need to drive housing and economic growth,” he said.