Odd things Comprehensive Spending Reviews. They are more a statement of intent, than a finalised corporate plan. Thus it is an entirely political decision as to when they are timed. From the Guardian’s round up of George Osborne’s Review (applicable in the first term of the next government, if the coalition are re-elected), here’s the headline figures for the devolved Assemblies/Parliament:
The governments of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are required to find resource savings of 2%, with a budget for Scotland of £25.7bn, Wales £13.6bn and Northern Ireland £9.6bn. The Scotland, Wales and NI offices in London are required to find savings of 10%. New capital borrowing powers of almost £300m for Scotland and an additional £31m to help Police Service of Northern Ireland tackle terrorism.
Compare that to the real victims in this spending review, the Communities Department (which is a Whitehall euphamism for local councils):
Local government department has been reduced by 60% – Eric Pickles is “the model of lean government”. He has agreed to another 10% reduction in resource budget. The council tax freeze, due to come to an end next April, will be extended for the next two years.
That’s in part because councils are slowly being stripped of infrastructural role in the educational sector and the severe curtailment of council involvement in funding small scale civic society enterprises. But it was always easier to squeeze council funding who will be directly blamed for a loss of services rather than Whitehall.
This promised 2 per cent cut in grants to devolved administrations may well be conditioned by the need to win next year’s referendum in Scotland… At least Scotland’s bonus is an increased ability to raise money privately, we’re just getting a bung to keep the Cops upstanding.
The other relevant change that will likely have a knock on effect on NI budgets:
Department for Work and Pensions is committed to 9.5% savings in running costs. A welfare cap will be set each year at the budget for four years, as a cash sum. When the government is forecast to breach the cap, the Office for Budget Responsibility will issue a warning
The only clear winners? A 3.4% increase in the intelligence services budget.
Adds: Oh, and there is this…
…the Northern Ireland Executive’s capital budget for 2015-16 will increase by 3.3% in cash terms to £1.1bn (1.5% in real terms)
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty