spending cuts

Jim Pickard

It turns out today that cuts to local government “spending power” will only be 4.4 per cent on average next year across Britain’s councils. So says Eric Pickles and his DCLG department. This sounds great compared to the figure floating around recently about a 10 per cent cut for the same period.

Except this is looking at apples and pears.  Read more

Jim Pickard

My colleague Fiona Harvey has dug out the fact that an array of flood prevention schemes could soon be culled – despite claims by ministers pre-CSR that flood funding would be protected.

There could be “dozens” of flood measures among the casualties of the spending round including a £100m flood prevention scheme in Leeds.

Caroline Spelman, secretary of state for the environment, said on Wednesday that although the floods budget would be cut by 20 per cent much of this would be found through efficiencies. But Defra has since admitted that proposed flood defence projects would be cancelled, although it has not yet offered any details.

The budget for building new flood defences and upgrading existing defences has been reduced from an average of £335m a year to £261m a year for the next four years.

You could say this is unsurprising in the context of wider cuts to almost all parts of government. But it flies in the face of comments by ministers: such as Ms Spelman’s insistence during the summer that she would ensure the protection of vital spending on the key areas of animal health and flood prevention.

 Read more

George OsborneCommentary led by Jim Pickard and Alex Barker of the FT’s political team, Michael Hunter, markets reporter, Gordon Smith, FT.com’s deputy news editor, Martin Sandbu, editorial writer and co-ordinated by Darren Dodd, of the UK newsdesk.

The chancellor sat down in the House of Commons at 1.33pm

JP: Osborne’s stroke of genius is to announce departmental cuts of 19 per cent – just lower than the 20 announced by Labour in March. Let’s wait to find if he is comparing apples with pears.

Average savings in departmental budget to be lower than the average implied in Labour’s March budget. Instead of average cuts of 20 per cent, there will be cuts of 19 per cent per department

Osborne says: “The measures set out today bring sanity to our public finances”

£15.8bn to refurbish schools

Schools budget to rise from £35bn a year to £39bn

More on education: Early years education budget for schools  to rise over each of the next four years. New £2.5bn pupil premium for disadvantaged children. And Sure Start services budgets will be protected in cash terms

Now for transport: The cap on rail fares will rise to retail price index plus 3 per cent for 3 years from 2012. £30bn to be invested in various transport projects over the next 4 years. M25 will be widened between 10 junctions. Crossrail will go ahead among other investments in Britain’s transport infrastructure

The BBC’s online budget will fall and it will not expand its activities competing with local media

Pilots of super-fast broadband to be started in the coming months

Now for the BBC: The BBC will take from the government the responsibility for the  World Service. The licence fee will be frozen for the next six years

Osborne says there will be £1bn to set up a “green investment bank”

JP: There is a 50 per cent increase in funding for apprentices. But the chancellor isn’t spelling out which schemes will suffer to pay for this – my bet would be the £1bn ‘train to gain’ fund (used to help companies send staff on training).

£220m invested in the UK Centre for Medical Research and Innovation at St Pancras. £200m to be invested in developing wind technology

Now for science: The science budget is protected at £4.6bn a year Read more

Jim Pickard

It was announced during the summer that the culture department (DCMS) will be slimmed down and moved to another building in Whitehall, vacating its existing premises at Cockspur Street, just off Trafalgar Square.

Progress is going well, we are told. One option is to move into the spare space at the Treasury, where George Osborne is getting staff to sit closer together at smaller desks to free up almost an entire floor. It’s not clear whether the culture officials would relish the prospect of sitting next to the financial disciplinarians from the Treasury, however. Read more