This is the most dire financial settlement we have ever witnessed for local government, which will have stark ramifications for communities up and down the country.
Despite bluster that he has protected vulnerable communities, Pickles has still outlined a settlement that is highly variable for individual local authorities, with some facing cuts of 17% in the next year alone.
The £85m transitional grant amounts to less than half a per cent of all grant money, and is a drop in the ocean compared to what is needed to plug the £6.5bn funding shortfall councils are facing this year.
Pickles had the opportunity to address the unfair frontloading of cuts to local authority budgets and spread them more evenly across the next four years, but he ducked it. This means there is little scope for councils to respond innovatively or reduce costs through advance planning or natural wastage.
The way the cuts have been foisted upon councils means many will have no choice but to act swiftly. Services and jobs that could otherwise be saved will have to be cut, and people will soon start to see the effect of this in their neighbourhoods.
By suggesting that only “lazy” councils will slash frontline services, Pickles has shown that he completely fails to understand the implications of his own policies.
It is clear that Pickles cares less about implementing true localism, and more about passing the buck down to local authorities to carry out the Government’s ideological cuts agenda.
David Sparks, leader of Labour Local Government