PublicFinance P UBLICFINANCE.CO.UK
Issue 04 April 2018
SPRING IN HIS STEP
TA ST E R E D I T I O N
The chancellor hails an economic bounce TAKING ON TRUST
Do charities need to be more transparent? GREEN ABOUT THE GILTS
APRIL 2018 • ISSUE № 04
Will blockchain provide a public sector upgrade?
Bond ﬁnance for climate projects explained
news Northants agrees to split
Majority of schools overspend
Northamptonshire County Council has accepted the findings of a government-commissioned report that it should be split into two new unitary authorities. The council, which issued a section 114 notice in February, said it was committed to “working alongside partners to achieve this in the timescale outlined”.
More than 60% of primary and secondary schools in England overspent their income in 2016-17. The proportion of local authority maintained secondary schools in deficit nearly trebled over a four year period – from 8.8% in 2013-14 to 26.1% in 2016-17, the Education Policy Institute said in a March report.
Local government secretary Sajid Javid has ordered an independent review after his department made mistakes in calculating retained business rates. Javid acknowledged there was an error in the methodology used to calculate funds due to councils on the 100% business rates retention pilot scheme, in a statement issued on 20 March. This meant 27 councils and the Greater London Authority received £36m more than they should. However, Javid said the department would not seek to reclaim these funds because it was late in the financial year. “A sudden reduction in [the authorities’] funding could potentially have an impact on the delivery of the objectives agreed as part of their devolution deals,” he said. He issued a direction asking the permanent secretary not to recover the overpayment “in this extraordinary circumstance”.
Staged pay rise worth 6.5% agreed for NHS workers Increase over three years targeted at low paid is welcomed by most unions – but managers claim pay cap for top earners is ‘divisive’ and will hit recruitment By Dominic Brady Unions, NHS employers and the government have agreed to a pay rise of 6.5% over three years for 1.3 million health workers in England. However, NHS managers expressed disappointment that the deal did not do more to address recruitment problems affecting senior and leadership roles. Subject to agreement from union members, NHS staff on Agenda for Change pay scales are due to beneﬁt from a nationwide funding boost worth £4.2bn. Agenda for Change covers all NHS staff except doctors and dentists and the most senior managers, and places them on a graded pay scale of nine bands ranging from £15,000 to over £100,000. Those on the lowest band will receive an immediate pay rise of over £2,000 in April, which represents a rise of 11-13% and will bring the lowest full-time salary up from £15,404 to £17,460. The increase for the bottom rung of the pay scale brings the NHS’s lowest earners 18p above the real living wage to £8.93 per hour, which will
TO ACCESS THE FULL VERSION OF PUBLIC FINANCE MAGAZINE, SUBSCRIBE HERE www.publicfinance.co.uk/subscribe
6 PUBLICFINANCE MONTH 2018
the �On wards: the Royal College of Nursing said the deal would benefit “overlooked NHS staff”
beneﬁt caterers, cleaners and porters. Health workers at the top of their pay band will receive a 6.5% pay rise between April 2018 and April 2020 – 3% in April 2018, 1.7% and a 1.1% lump sum in April 2019, and 1.7% from April 2020. All unions involved in the negotiations, with the exception of the GMB, have recommended that their members vote in favour of the deal. However, PF understands rejection by GMB members is unlikely to wreck the entire agreement. If accepted, the pay rise will be received in July wage packets, backdated from April. Sara Gorton, Unison head of health and lead pay negotiator for the NHS unions, said seven years of pay restraint had resulted in “signiﬁcant ﬁnancial hardship” for NHS workers, and created recruitment and retention problems. “The agreement means an end at last to the government’s self-defeating and unfair 1% pay cap,” she said. Josie Davies, Royal College of Nursing chief executive and general secretary, added: “[This] deal is neither a magic wand nor a blank cheque but commits signiﬁcant government cash to overlooked NHS staff without making any unpalatable demands in return.” However, NHS managers covered by the deal gave it a more qualiﬁed welcome. While praising what it would do for the lowest paid health service workers, the Managers in Partnership union said it was disappointed with proposals to cap rises for staff on the highest Agenda for Change bands 8D and 9. Jon Restell, MiP chief executive, said: “It’s unfair and divisive that political demands for a cap on senior pay rises mean [MiP members] won’t be getting the same recognition as other NHS staff. “The cap and the failure to accelerate pay progression for managers will do nothing to help the very real recruitment difficulties for leadership posts in the NHS, or to encourage clinical staff in band 7 to apply for management roles.” The initial proposal had called for NHS staff to give up one day’s holiday per year to receive the pay rise. This was not included in the offer.
Councils in business rates pilot overpaid
West Mids in £350m homes deal
The Treasury has struck a £350m deal with the West Midlands Combined Authority to provide 215,000 homes by 2030-31. It includes £100m to buy and clean up sites in the WalsallWolverhampton corridor. West Midlands mayor Andy Street said it was a “huge milestone”.
Hammond promised a balanced approach to debt reduction and investment
Hammond: �Philip “If public finances continue to reflect improvements, I would have capacity to enable further increases in public spending”
Rates to be revalued earlier Early revauation will ensure bills reflect rents better, says chancellor, as he hints at higher spending in the autumn Budget
By PF reporters Chancellor Philip Hammond has brought forward the next business rates revaluation by a year to 2021, after which three-yearly reviews will take effect. The change was announced in the Spring Statement on 13 March and is intended to ensure bills “more accurately reﬂect the current rental value of properties”. Hammond used his inaugural Spring Statement to hold out the prospect of increased spending in the Budget in the autumn, pointing to a number of favourable factors in the economy. “I am not one of those who thinks every penny must be used to reduce the deﬁcit or one of those who thinks every penny must be spent immediately,” he told the Commons. “I will set overall public spending at the Budget and there will be a detailed
spending review in 2019. “If, in the autumn, public ﬁnances continue to reﬂect [recent] improvements, I would have capacity to enable further increases in public spending and investment in the years ahead.”
He added: “We will deliver a balanced approach to debt reduction and investment in Britain’s future.” The Office for Budget Responsibility has also indicated the economy is expected to grow slightly more strongly than expected this year. Setting out the latest OBR economic and ﬁscal forecasts, Hammond said there was “light at the end of the tunnel”. Economic growth in 2018 is now expected to reach 1.5%, up from the 1.4% predicted at the Autumn Budget in November. Growth is then expected to drop to 1.3% in both 2019 and 2020 before picking up modestly to 1.4% in 2021 and 1.5% in 2022. “Forecasts are there to be beaten,” Hammond told MPs. “We did it in 2017. We should make it our business to do so again.” He added that the public ﬁnances had reached a turning point, seeing the ﬁrst sustained fall in debt for 17 years. While debt as a percentage of GDP is expect to rise to 86.5% in 2018-19, it will then begin dropping, falling to 77.8% by 2021-22. Borrowing for 2017-18 is expected to come in at £45.2bn, down from the £49.9bn forecast in November and by 2021-22 is expected to have more than halved to £21.4bn. The OBR said the slightly improved economic position was driven by the
➊ ➋ ➌ ➍ ➎
Statement at a glance Growth glimmers The OBR revised up its economic growth projection for 2018 to 1.5%, a slight improvement on the 1.4% it forecast in November 2017.
Borrowing less Borrowing for 2017-19 is set to come in at £45.2bn, more than £4bn less than the £49.9bn the OBR forecast in November.
Debt drops After peaking in 2018-29, debt will start falling as a proportion of GDP from 2019-20, dropping to 77.8% by 2021-22.
Homes and transport Forty-four areas are working on bids for a share of the £4.1bn Housing Infrastructure Fund and cities were invited to bid for funds for transport improvements.
Lots of consultation Thirteen consultation documents were released on topics ranging from corporate tax and the digital economy, cash and digital payments to an alternative method of VAT collection.
unexpected strength of the world economy, but the medium-term outlook remained broadly the same. Productivity growth was much stronger than expected, the OBR noted. “But that reﬂects a much weaker path for average hours worked, rather than stronger output or weaker employment growth,” it said.
TO ACCESS THE FULL VERSION OF PUBLIC FINANCE MAGAZINE, SUBSCRIBE HERE www.publicfinance.co.uk/subscribe Opinion, page 17
► Watchdog Watch
WHAT’S GOING ON IN AUDIT AND REGULATION —
NATI ON AL AU D IT O F F I C E ⦁ Local authorities in England are struggling to cope with rising demands and cost pressures, according to a report by the National Audit Office. Councils are overspending and funding services from reserves, which is damaging their long-term ﬁnancial sustainability, the watchdog concluded. Spending on services had fallen by 32.6% between 2016-17 and 2010-11, the NAO found, with a 52.8% drop in expenditure on planning and development, 37.1% on highways and transport, and 34.9% on cultural and related services. “Local authorities are struggling to juggle higher demands and cost pressures against signiﬁcant central government funding cuts of nearly 50% since 2010-11,” the NAO said. Frontline services were being hit. For example, 33.7% fewer households had weekly waste collections and the number of libraries fell by 10.3%. Amyas Morse, head of the NAO, said: “Funding for local authorities is characterised by one-off and short-term ﬁxes, many of which come with centrally driven conditions. He said the government risked “sleep walking into a centralised local authority ﬁnancial system”, where councils lost their ability to use their discretion, which was “being slowly eroded”. Aileen Murphie, the NAO’s director for local government value for money, said she was surprised at “how inventive local www.publicfinance.co.uk/subscribe authorities have been to cope with ﬁnancial pressure”.
TO ACCESS THE FULL VERSION OF PUBLIC FINANCE MAGAZINE, SUBSCRIBE HERE
12 PUBLICFINANCE APRIL 2018
33.7% Reductions in households having a weekly bin collection since 2010-11
“Funding for local authorities is characterised by one off and short-term fixes, many with centrally driven conditions” C OU N C IL CA S H : AM YAS M O R S E , NAO
She noted that “the use of reserves is a matter of concern” but that doing this was “not always unplanned and unthoughtful”. In another report, the NAO noted that councils were struggling to take a holistic view of education provision because of the high proportion of secondary schools that had converted to academies. Almost three quarters (72%) of secondary schools have now become academies, leaving local authorities responsible largely for primary and specialist schools, it said. The NAO highlighted stark variations in the concentration of academies. For instance, 93% of schools in Bromley are academies, compared to just 6% in Lancashire, Lewisham and North Tyneside. Maintained schools rated “inadequate” have to convert to academies, with the help of a sponsor within nine months. The auditors found it was taking the Department for Education longer to convert many schools. It had been difficult to ﬁnd sponsors for some schools. Although DfE grants are available to encourage sponsors, the NAO found no evidence that the department had assessed how effective this money was. Morse said: “It is unclear how feasible it will be for the department to continue converting large numbers of schools into academies.” The DfE has introduced a more stringent conversion process, with closer ﬁnancial scrutiny of schools and sponsors.
The majority of secondary schools are academies, so it is difficult for councils to take a holisitc view of education
opinion ► Emily Andrews
The chancellor was Tiggerish – but only a spending review that makes services sustainable will make the rest of us feel upbeat
A different stripe
ALAMY / WALT DISNEY PICTURES
he chancellor’s “Tiggerish” mood could not disguise the essential dullness of March’s Spring Statement. We were promised a boring nonevent, and that’s what we got. That’s no bad thing. In recent years, the Autumn Statement has ballooned into essentially a second Budget. Both events have been littered with headline-grabbing giveaways and under-baked tax changes that tend to unravel. Philip Hammond’s decision to move to a single ﬁscal event – putting planning ahead of improvisation and theatre – is one that we at the Institute for Government championed. So, despite the improvement in the public ﬁnance forecasts, the chancellor stuck to his guns and made no new spending announcements in his 20-minute speech. He could have managed to spend some money without breaching his promise for a boring statement – announcing some funding to be allocated at a later date, perhaps, as he did with Brexit-related spending in the autumn Budget. However, he is determined to see public debt fall. The Office for Budget Responsibility puts this at 1% below November’s forecasts; there is not enough headroom, it seems, to fund a spending spree. He did leave himself some room – maybe in case public ﬁnances continue to improve and the stars align – to put a bit more cash into services at the autumn Budget. But he made it clear that his sights are set on the Spending Review, slated for 2019.
bounce, �Less more checks: the chancellor needs to address the reactive spending cycle with a thorough review
There’s no question that a renewed, strategic approach to public service spending and reform is needed. As the CIPFA/IfG Performance Tracker shows, the short-term strategies that have been pursued since 2010 – staff cuts, pay restraint and hard spending limits – have long since run out of steam. A comprehensive spending review is sorely needed to return health, care and local government services in particular to a sustainable trajectory. That spending review must avoid the pitfalls of 2015, when layers of individually defensible assumptions accumulated into overoptimistic plans and warning signs of service deterioration were ignored. It must be based on a thorough assessment of demand, staff and quality pressures. It should be backed by genuine reform plans. And it needs a clearly articulated vision for the kind of services this government intends to provide, to tie it all together. But there are immediate pressures that will only worsen in the run-up to 2020-21, when the 2019 money will have been paid out. The NHS provider deﬁcit for 2017-18 is set to be nearly double that anticipated. Waiting time targets for accident and emergency and elective treatment are getting further out of reach, while demand continues to rise. In the latest quarter, there were 2,225 assaults on prison officers, a 189% increase from 2009 and a record high. There are other questions bubbling up that will demand an answer – if not necessarily immediate money. Continued uncertainty over business rates retention and the new “fair funding formula” are making matters harder for councils as they attempt to plan for growing social care demand. Many schools will see funding fall in two years’ time when the extra cash bump announced last July runs out. The government has yet to demonstrate convincingly that they can manage those reductions without damaging quality. Concerns over these issues will reach a clamour by the time the Spending Review rolls around. The 2019 Spending Review is the chancellor’s opportunity to break the reactive spending cycle that, arguably, he inherited from his predecessor. But, right Emily Andrews is a senior researcher at now, he is still trapped in it. That may well the Institute for www.publicfinance.co.uk/subscribe mean more emergency cash injections on Government the horizon before the year is out. ⦁ @emilyishness
TO ACCESS THE FULL VERSION OF PUBLIC FINANCE MAGAZINE, SUBSCRIBE HERE
GETT GETTY E Y ET ETT
BLOCKCHAIN: UNLOCKING THE POTENTIAL TO ACCESS THE FULL VERSION OF PUBLIC FINANCE MAGAZINE, SUBSCRIBE HERE www.publicfinance.co.uk/subscribe
24 PUBLICFINANCE APRIL 2018
Distributed ledger technologies such as blockchain promise to revolutionise public services from electoral registers to tax collection. PF looks at progress so far
ven taken with a pinch of salt, comments made last September by JPMorgan boss Jamie Dimon that virtual currency bitcoin was only ﬁt for use by drug dealers, murderers and people living in North Korea will have done little to boost its credibility.– The currency, which emerged in the aftermath of the ﬁnancial crisis, allows people to bypass banks and traditional payment processes to pay for goods By Rachel Willcox and services. More recently, following tales that the hypervolatile currency was turning tech-savvy speculators into billionaires overnight, UK banks including Lloyds and Virgin Money said they were banning use of their credit cards to buy the cryptocurrency. Concerns were rising that customers could rack up huge debts as the price of cryptocurrencies fell. This all seems a far cry from improving public services yet the two are linked: blockchain, the technology that underpins bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, is also heralded as the future of new ways for the government to interact with citizens. Bearing in mind the controversy thrown up by bitcoin, it’s somewhat ironic that the main driver for use of blockchain is its capacity to deliver a new kind of trust to a wide range of services. It was January last year when the government, with something of a fanfare, launched the Distributed Ledger Technology: Beyond Block Chain report. Penned by
chief scientiﬁc adviser Sir Mark Walport, it set out how blockchain-style technologies could transform the delivery of public services. A distributed ledger or blockchain is a database that can securely record ﬁnancial, physical or electronic assets for sharing across a public or private network through entirely transparent updates of information. They are made up of data records or “blocks” and, once these blocks have been collected in a chain, they cannot be changed or deleted by a single actor; instead, they are veriﬁed and managed using automation and shared governance protocols. This makes it possible to discover any and all changes made to digital data, no matter how small, no matter by whom, immediately and with zero error. In his report, Walport describes the wide-ranging potential applications of distributed ledger technologies, including collecting taxes, delivering beneﬁts, issuing passports, recording land registry entries, assuring supply chains of goods and generally ensuring the integrity of government records and services. “In the NHS, the technology offers the potential to improve healthcare by improving and authenticating the delivery of services and by sharing records securely according to exact rules. For the consumer of all of these services, the technology offers the potential, according to the circumstances, for individual consumers to control access to personal records and to know who has accessed them,” the report adds. With IT security breaches still fresh in the minds of public sector management, Nicolas Quairel, who heads the cybersecurity practice at ► Mazars, suggests that the security beneﬁts alone should be enough to
TO ACCESS THE FULL VERSION OF PUBLIC FINANCE MAGAZINE, SUBSCRIBE HERE www.publicfinance.co.uk/subscribe
GOOD CAUSES FOR CONCERN
TO ACCESS THE FULL VERSION OF PUBLIC FINANCE Charities hold MAGAZINE, major contracts to SUBSCRIBE HEREservices in numerous provide public www.publicfinance.co.uk/subscribe
areas. How can they do this and still uphold their core values?
DAN MITCHELL / IKON
or many charities, the days of fundraising through jumble sales and rattling tins disappeared long ago. By Neil Merrick Instead, public sector contracts and grants are a major source of income – and with that comes the type of scrutiny and sometimes criticism frequently aimed at government and private companies. It started earlier this decade with rows over the pay of some charity chief executives. Then, in 2015, Londonbased children’s charity Kids Company collapsed within months of receiving a £3m government grant amid claims of serious mismanagement. Then, matters got far worse this year, when Oxfam was accused of covering up investigations into sexual misconduct by its aid workers in Haiti. It remains to be seen whether, as threatened, the Department for International Development stops funding the charity. Other international aid charities - the International Committee of the Red Cross, Christian Aid and Save the Children – have also admitted to its staff being involved in sexual misconduct when carrying out humanitarian work. It is fair to say that charities would generally prefer not to have been thrust into the limelight by such controversy, especially when this means answering tricky questions about how they manage their affairs or their wider role in society. Now, says Karl Wilding, director of public policy and volunteering at the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, they must face the fact that they are “no longer on a pedestal”. In terms of reputation, he adds, charities are roughly on a par with government bodies – except the public expects better from them. NCVO ﬁgures show charities’ annual income from the government and local authorities rose from £10bn to £15.7bn in the decade to 2010. Since then, it has fallen back slightly, but charities still received £15.3bn in contracts and grants as recently as 2013-14. So what effect will Oxfam and other scandals have on the sector? According to Wilding, the NCVO’s director of policy, the worst thing charities can do is rely upon goodwill and tell everyone they are trying to “save the world”. Instead, there must be more transparency over pay and safeguarding checks on staff and volunteers. “We have to make sure we have zero tolerance over safeguarding incidents,” he says. “We can’t promise that there won’t be incidents in future, but we should be able to show there are processes in place to make sure they don’t happen.” There are more than 168,000 charities in England and Wales with a total annual income exceeding £75bn. They often compete with private ﬁrms for public service contracts in health, education, prisons and welfare, and may also act as subcontractors, sometimes to private ﬁrms, in more complex supply chains. Regardless of how they are funded, says Wilding, charities must make it clear what any money is for and not stray from the values that the public shares and sees charities as representing. “What shocked people about Oxfam is that it was seen demonstrating behaviour people don’t accept,” he adds. ►
TO ACCESS THE FULL VERSION OF PUBLIC FINANCE MAGAZINE, SUBSCRIBE HERE RECEIVED BY CHARITIES IN CONTRACTS AND GRANTS www.publicfinance.co.uk/subscribe FROM THE GOVERNMENT AND LOCAL AUTHORITIES IN 2013-14 WWW.PUBLICFINANCE.CO.UK 37
THE GREEN STUFF
Investment in green bonds has grown dramatically. Why are governments interested?
TO ACCESS By Simone Rensch THE FULL VERSION OF PUBLIC FINANCE MAGAZINE, SUBSCRIBE HERE www.publicfinance.co.uk/subscribe
40 PUBLICFINANCE APRIL 2018
hat could be the world’s largest sovereign green bond was announced by Hong Kong when it unveiled its budget in March. More and more governments have issued these bonds in recent years to meet their climate commitments and to invest more in green projects, as ﬁnding the ﬁnance for these can be a challenge. So what are green bonds – and why are they becoming more popular as a way to fund environmentally friendly initiatives?
What are green bonds? Green bonds can be used to generate new sources of climate ﬁnance. They are ﬁnancial instruments used to fund projects or assets that have speciﬁc climate or environmentally friendly beneﬁts. They work like regular bonds and can be issued to access funding through public offering or private placement. For governments, sovereign green bonds can enable a stream of funds for public projects. They have often been used by development and central banks to support public sector schemes. These sovereign bonds allow countries to tap into a pool of new capital to use for
Top tips… Do ➊ Make detailed plans
– don’t just set targets
➋ Question constantly both ➌
what is planned and how it will be delivered Watch out for warning signs, such as regular overspending
Don’t ➊ Let yourself get optimistic ➋ Ignore the detail ➌ Make unrealistic
➐ ➌ ➍ ➎ ➏
Decide on a longer-term plan, not a target While longer-term savings plans will inevitably include more detail in the first two or three years, councils need a good understanding of where they will find the savings in later years. Simply quoting a future savings target that is not based on the realities of the authority’s operations is storing up serious risk.
Don’t deny the details Well-managed councils will produce high-quality plans and these need enough detail to be credible. There is a tendency to provide plenty of information on small savings while discussing the big ones in broad terms that lack precision about what needs to be done. Relentless focus on the detail is essential to turning policy goals into savings.
Watch for warning signs Authorities need to look out for warning signs that savings plans may not be deliverable, such as a department with a history of in-year overspends. If a unit has missed its savings target one year, it is highly unlikely to deliver a more ambitious savings plan the following year without significant changes to its management, operations and culture.
Be realistic rather than optimistic A repeated failure to deliver financial plans may be a sign that optimism bias is creeping into the calculations. This could include making unrealistic assumptions about the size and speed of savings. This builds up problems for the future. A culture of constructive challenge excludes optimism bias in favour of realism bias, built on rigorous examination of goals, underlying assumptions and implementation plans.
➐ ➑ ➒ 10
assumptions about commercial schemes or business rates
Get financial team feedback For chief finance officers, the quality of financial challenge in departmental forecasts regarding pressures and savings is crucial. The finance team needs to constructively challenge departments on their behalf – a key warning sign that plans could fail is a lack of feedback to the CFO on such challenges.
Have the right skills Being more commercial needs to happen in step with robust due diligence, knowing about the pitfalls and risks, having effective governance, managing it tightly and acting proportionately. This means having the right skills in place.
Make realistic assumptions When considering a commercial scheme, it is crucial to have balanced assumptions about the likelihood of success, how much income will be generated and how quickly it will flow.
Don’t bank on business rates Councils are well aware that they are likely to receive additional income from business rates retention. However, they need to be prudent rather than optimistic in the anticipation of receiving extra revenue from this source over the medium term.
TO ACCESS THE FULL VERSION OF PUBLIC FINANCE MAGAZINE, SUBSCRIBE HERE
Further reading Insight reports: www.cipfa.org/cipfa-thinks/insight ● Building Financial Resilience by Richard Vize ● Balancing Local Authority Budgets by Sean Nolan and Joanne Pitt CIPFA can undertake an expert, independent, impartial and www.publicfinance.co.uk/subscribe confidential financial resilience review of your organisation, please call us on 020 7543 5600 for more details
numbers game Plans for a 1.9 mile road tunnel close to Stonehenge are being reviewed by international heritage experts. The £1.6bn Highways England scheme is designed to route traffic away from the site. However, campaigners have said the plan would disrupt the landscape and archaeological integrity.
Average council tax increase
South Greater East London
East East North of Midlands East England
Band D property, by region
South West Yorkshire Wales England West Midlands & Humber
Very and quite dissatisfied
Social care Inpatient NHS overall
TO ACCESS THE FULL VERSION OF PUBLIC FINANCE MAGAZINE, Dentistry SUBSCRIBE HERE
Accident and emergency
GPs www.publicfinance.co.uk/subscribe Outpatient 10
135 Source: National Audit Office
Public satisfaction with the NHS and social care services
Change in indicator (%) (indexed: 2010-11=100)
48 PUBLICFINANCE APRIL 2018
Change in demand in key local authority areas in England
Average band D council tax bills will rise by just over £81 in England and just over £72 in Wales in 2018-19, analysis by CIPFA has revealed. The institute’s annual council tax survey showed that households in the South East face the steepest council tax hikes at £90.14, while those in London can expect average bills to rise by just less than £57. Overall, the survey found almost all (95%) of councils planned to increase council tax, and households will face the steepest rise in bills for 14 years. CIPFA chief executive Rob Whiteman said: “This sharp rise in council tax across the country reﬂects the enormous ﬁnancial pressures many local authorities are currently under.”
Local authorities have seen rising demand in key areas, the National Audit Office revealed in its March report on the sustainability of local government finance. The report revealed rises in the number of looked after children, older people in need and those in need aged 18-64 years. There was a particularly steep rise in the number of households accepted as homeless and in priority need. The NAO suggested elements of recent welfare reforms had contributed to this.
Council tax survey
Very and quite satisfied
Source: Nuffield Trust and the King’s Fund
2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 -11 -12 -13 -14 -15 -16 -17
Number of children looked after
Estimated population in need aged 65 and over
Estimated population in need aged 18-64
Households accepted as unintentionally homeless and in priority need
Satisfaction with NHS drops Public satisfaction with the NHS has dipped – and dissatisfaction is at its highest since 2007. Analysis of British Social Attitudes Survey data by the King’s Fund and the Nuffield Trust shows satisfaction fell by six percentage points to 57% between 2016 and 2017, while the proportion of those who were dissatisfied rose by seven percentage points to 29%. People were particularly dissatisfied with social care, but satisfaction was high for outpatient services, GPs and dentistry.
SCOTT DE JONGE / SHUTTERSTOCK
Tunnel vision at Stonehenge
PUBLIC FINANCE IS THE MAGAZINE OF CIPFA, TO GET ACCESS TO THE FULL PUBLICATION SUBSCRIBE NOW w w w.publicfinance.co.uk/subscribe