Autumn Budget: What You Need to Know
From the Spending Review and Autumn Statement from Chancellor George Osborne:
- Rumours about the ‘raiding’ of the Big Lottery Fund turned out to be unfounded
- Proposed changes in tax credits have been reversed
- An undertaking to protect spending on police.
Local Government, Health and Social Care
On Local Government the Chancellor is clear that he expects the taxpayer and local authorities to cover the phasing out of the local government grant by the end of this Parliament. Councils have been promised they can keep 100% of receipts generated by selling off their assets and given gentle encouragement to spend their reserves. Consultation will now start on how they will be allowed to keep their business rates revenue and the freedoms elected Mayors will have. Local authorities providing social care will be able to levy a 2% precept on council tax, ring-fenced for those services – if they all carry this out it will bring almost £2bn into the social care system and the Better Care Fund has been increased by £1.5bn by 2019-20 to help authorities better integrate health and social care. However, according to the BBC, £200m has already been removed from this year's council public health budgets. Savings are also anticipated in the public health grant with a consultation on transferring new powers and responsibilities. London Councils has raised concerns about the impact of reducing public health spending in London due to higher than average rates of obesity, smoking related illnesses and sexually transmitted diseases.
On the criminal justice front, much of the impact of the chancellor’s announcements will be how it is implemented – which is, at present, unknown. The closure of ‘under-used courts’ and HMP YOI Holloway. In Gove's statement he moots closure by summer 2016 and seems to suggest there will be no rebuilding but increase at HMP Bronzefield and the re-opening of HMP Downview – neither in London and a long way from Essex. The implications for the whole sector are huge, given many organisations have worked in geographical proximity to Holloway for years.
In the wake of Paris, police budgets will not be cut. This was an extraordinary announcement and will make a substantive difference to London’s incoming PCC and Mayor next May; along with the announcement of £11 billion for infrastructure for Transport for London.
Apprenticeships and Employment Support
Apprenticeships featured heavily. Following the announcement in the summer budget of an employer levy to fund 3 million new apprenticeships, the Chancellor clarified this will amount to 0.5% of employer pay bills where the payroll is over £3 million. The trick will be ensuring that all young people can access these opportunities: research from the Runnymede Trust shows that only 9.5% apprenticeships are taken up by BME young people, despite 20% of young people coming from a BME background.
Key points from the statement included:
- Extension of advanced learning loans to cover level 3 and 4 courses for young learners (aged 19 to 23) and level 5 and 6 courses for all learners.
- Protection of funding for the “core adult skills participation budgets in cash terms, at £1.5bn”
- Sixth Form Colleges will be allowed to become Academies – so they no longer have to pay VAT.
- Apprenticeship Levy for employers set at 0.5 per cent of their pay roll cost - this will be offset by a £15,000 allowance. (This means an employer would need payroll costs in excess of £3m to pay the Levy).
Universal Credit will continue to be rolled out, with job search conditionality extended to a further 1.3 million claimants per year by 2020. An integrated Work and Health Programme will replace the Work Programme and Work Choice to provide support for the long term unemployed and those with health conditions and disabilities. Many voluntary sector providers will welcome the extra funding for employment support aimed at those with health conditions and disabilities. However, the money won’t mean much unless the programme is designed so the voluntary sector can get involved.
Support for Charities
There will be additional funding for some excellent VCSE organisations in the violence against women and girls (VAWG) Sector.
National Citizenship Service
Huge increase in funding with an increase to 300,000 places by the end of this parliament.
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