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Key points: what does the budget announcement mean for the public sector?

Posted by: Lauren Cox 5 Nov 18  | Current Issues |  Government |  Public Sector

With the final budget before Brexit having been delivered by Chancellor Phillip Hammond last week, change is promised to be upon the public sector. While it is all-dependent on the Brexit deal, it is worth considering how these proposed transformations will benefit us should the transition of leaving the EU be an easy one.

 

Education

 

Hammond has announced in his budget a £400m in-year bonus for schools to buy "the little extras they need", such as new equipment and facilities. It will be in the form of a one-off capital payment directly made to schools, which averages £10,000 per primary school and £50,000 per secondary school.

 

This will be welcomed after a severe deficit in the sector; in England alone, educational funding per pupil flat lined between 2010 and 2016, but with changes to policy as well as a dramatic increase in pupil numbers, this meant a 5% cut in school’s per-pupil spending. In addition to this, in 2015 then Chancellor George Osborne phased out the £600m education services grant making the outlook bleak for services like safeguarding, special needs support and maintenance.

 

However, this doesn’t tackle issues surrounding special educational needs. According to data created by the Department of Educational Statistics, approximately 4,500 pupils with statutory rights to special needs support were waiting for suitable provision or being home-schooled at the beginning of 2018, although campaigners argue that this number is much higher. This is as a result of less than half of children with special educational needs having special educational needs statements or education health and care plans already in place.

 

NHS & Social care

 

For all intents and purposes, the budget was good news for social care. The Chancellor announced an additional £650m boost for social care for 2019/2020. This is alongside an extra £45m for the Disabled Facilities Grant in England in 2018/2019 as well as another £84m over the next five years to expand the Children's Social Care programmes to 20 further councils.  

 

This shows recognition for the immediate pressures that local authorities are continually dealt with, although again, campaigners argue that this sum merely scratches the surface when it comes to the UK’s social care crisis.

 

However, Prime Minister, Theresa May, has already pledged an extra £20.5bn a year in funding for the NHS by 2023 and this was once again confirmed by the Chancellor during his budget speech last week. Within this, it is said that the NHS will increase mental health spending by over £2 billion a year within the government’s 5-year plan. Philip Hammond promises a new 24-hour mental health hotline, as well as mental health crisis centres in every accident and emergency unit across the country in a bid to confront the increase in mental health disorders and the strain on social care in the UK.

 

Housing

 

During his budget speech, Philip Hammond announced an extra £500m for the housing infrastructure fund to allow local authorities to apply for help with building homes, which could be beneficial as reports suggest the housing market is beginning to slow amid fears surrounding Brexit. He believes that this extra investment will help to build 650,000 additional homes in the UK. Furthermore, the government has teamed up with nine housing associations in England to deliver 13,000 homes which will significantly increase the number of jobs available within the sector, thus boosting the economy.

 

These measures are ultimately reliant on some form of deal being reach between the UK and EU, and if there is a ‘no-deal’ Brexit we can expect a new budget. Only then can we truly evaluate whether or not it really is the end for austerity.

IS AGGRESSIVE TRANSFORMATION IMPACTING RETENTION OF SENIOR STAFF WITHIN LOCAL GOVERNMENT?

 

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