Data blog: watchdog report outlines where the cuts have fallen

Council planning and development services have been subjected to the deepest local government cuts between 2010 and 2015, a report published today by public spending watchdog the National Audit Office shows.

According to the report, government funding for local authorities has fallen by 28 per cent in real terms over the 2010 spending review period, with metropolitan districts facing the largest fall in government funding.

The report shows that planning and development services - a broad category including planning policy, development control, building control, economic development, community development and environmental initiatives - have suffered disproportionate cuts.

"The largest spending reductions have been in planning and development services in single tier and county councils," the report highlights (see infographic below). It says that the budgeted real-terms reduction in spending on these services in single tier and county councils is 46 per cent between 2010 and 2015. In district authorities, planning and development services have faced an average reduction in budgeted spend of nearly a quarter between 2010 and 2015, according to the report. Only cultural serves have faced deeper cuts in district authorities, the report says.

However, the report highlights that planning and development services now make up a far smaller proportion of savings, with significant shifts in the focus of savings between 2010/11 and 2014/15 as the relative degree of protection given to different service areas has changed. For example, it says that adult social care accounted for 15 per cent of total budgeted savings between 2010 and 2012, but this proportion increased to 40 per cent between 2013 and 2015. Planning and development services, meanwhile, accounted for 21 per cent of total budgeted savings between 2010 and 2012, but this proportion had dropped to only six per cent between 2013 and 2015, the report says (see infographic below). The larger spending reductions in the first two years of the 2010-15 period for planning and development services are in part due to the end of centrally funded programmes such as the Working Neighbourhoods Fund, the Neighbourhood Renewal Fund, Housing Market Renewal Pathfinders and the Local Enterprise Growth Initiative, according to the report.

Within the broad planning and development service area, development management and planning policy services have fared slightly better than other functions, the report suggests. It shows that the median reduction for planning and development services is 46.5 per cent, but within this category, development control services experienced a reduction of 38.3 per cent and planning policy a reduction of 33.2 per cent (see infographic below).

The Impact of Funding Reductions on Local Authorities is available here.


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