Spending review: Our region's reaction

20 October 2010, 14:40 | Updated: 21 October 2010, 14:27

Heart's been finding out what organisations in the Thames Valley think about the Chancellor's announcements.

Today George Osborne has been setting out how he plans to tackle Britain's massive debt.

Billions of pounds will be cut from Government budgets and nearly half a million public sector jobs are going to be lost over the next 4 years.

Spending on the NHS and schools will be safe, but spending on police will fall.

By 2020 the retirement age will be 66.

Click here for more detail on the cuts.

Today's announcement will have an impact on everyone - including our councils, police forces and fire services.

Some of them have already contacted Heart about the spending review.

Here's what they've had to say:

Hampshire Police

Police funding is to be cut by 4%, but individual forces won't know how the cuts will be passed on until later in the year.

Deputy Chief Constable Andy Marsh, said:

"The Constabulary has been working for some months to scope how we can best keep the people of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight safe whilst making the most of our resources and achieving a budget reduction.  

“As we have previously stated, collaboration is one way in which we can make real savings and we will continue to explore this with neighbouring forces."

"We must now await the decision of the Home Secretary with regard to exactly what budget we will have available for next year and we will not be making any final decisions until that process has taken place, which we expect to be in mid December."

Thames Valley Police

Thames Valley Chief Constable Sara Thornton said:

“Thames Valley Police, along with other police forces, won’t find out our actual central police grant for the coming years until December, so I am unable to speculate on how many roles may go and whether there will be any redundancies or cuts to front line services at this stage.

“We are going to work more closely with our colleagues in Hampshire. We have already agreed that all our Information Technology and Information Management departments are going to be joined up, which will save about £6 million per annum.

“We will also be looking at taking out a layer of management in our Basic Command Units and stream-lining processes.

“This is a challenging time for all police forces, and Thames Valley Police are trying to make sure that we cut our budget, but not our service. By ensuring we are already prepared to make large budget cuts while trying to ensure frontline services are not affected, I feel Thames Valley Police is ready to face the challenges coming over the coming months and years.”

West Berkshire Council

Leader of West Berkshire Council Councillor Graham Jones, said:

“The Department of Communities and Local Government partly funds local authorities through the Formula Grant, which in turn forms part of the contribution to Council Tax.  The Department has to achieve a reduction well in excess of a quarter over the next 4 years.  This will have serious implications for us.  Other Departments such as the NHS and Education will not be seeing the increases in their budgets that would enable them to deliver the same quantity and type of services that we have become accustomed to.

It is, however, entirely right that the government has decided to end the ring-fencing of most local authority grants by April next year. We also welcome the fact that the coalition government will take £1bn form the "protected" NHS budget in England to help meet the costs of social care an we look forward to receiving our share of this.  

As the details that affect each local authority emerge, we shall be looking closely over the coming days at what they mean in budgetary terms.

Central government has already announced that there is to be no increase to Council Tax next year.

With retail inflation running currently at 4.6%, this will add to the major pressures on services and the staff who have to deliver them.

It is too early to say in detail what all this might mean.  We shall, however, shortly be carrying out a Consultation Exercise with the people of West Berkshire to ascertain their views.

The coalition government is however right in addressing these fundamental problems quickly.”

Science in Oxfordshire

George Osborne announced the Diamond Light Source Synchrotron near Didcot in Oxfordshire, would escape the cuts. He described Britain as "a world leader in scientific research, and that is vital to our economic success.''

Months of campaigning by academics appeared to have paid off when it was revealed that the science budget would be frozen over the next four years.

The research community had been bracing itself for cuts of up to 20% or more in Chancellor George Osborne's Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR).

Leading neurobiologist Professor Colin Blakemore, from Oxford University, former head of the Medical Research Council, said:

"It is wonderful to learn that Government has listened to the scientific community.

"Collectively we have made the case that funding science is not a cost but a way to invest in creating a stronger economy which is the best way to guarantee the recovery that will benefit everyone. It will now be important to maintain the dialogue with Government as it reviews budgetary commitments for the future.''


Phil Bloomer, Oxfam's campaigns and policy director, said:

"David Cameron and George Osborne deserve real credit for their promise to stick to Britain's aid promises during these difficult economic times. The coalition has taken the tough choice to prioritise the poorest people on the planet during the bad times as well as good.''

Bracknell Forest Council

Paul Bettison, leader of Bracknell Forest Council, said:

"Today the Comprehensive Spending Review has been released from the Coalition Government.

"However, while it gives a national indication on where savings will be coming from, locally we will not know the full impact until mid-December.

"Between now and then, we are preparing our budget for 2011/2012 and we are currently in talks with members, council staff and our partners on how we can reduce our overall budget while still doing our utmost to continue to provide essential services to our residents.

"Residents can have their say on spending cuts during the annual budget consultation which will run for six weeks from mid December."

Oxfordshire County Council

Keith Mitchell, leader of Oxfordshire County Council, said:

"No real surprises. What the Chancellor said fitted in with our own best guess. We've been working on this for over a year and our planning is very much in line with what he's announced today. Of course the devil's in the detail, so we have to wait to see exactly how it pans out.

"We thought schools would have a cut in their budget, actually they've been promised an increase just a tiny bit about inflation so they will do well. The second thing that is pleasing is the announcement about science spending that is going to be maintained. The Diamond Light Synchrotron down at Harwell was mentioned by name by George Osborne and science is a very big bit of our economy here, so that is good news.

"Our services are going to see less money, and that is going to be difficult. But the country's been overspending since 2001 and this does have to happen."

Hampshire County Council

Councillor Ken Thornber, Leader of the Council, said some headline announcements made today were, on the face of it, to be welcomed, such as a recognition of the need to protect the most vulnerable in our society through funding for social care and supporting people. 

“However, we need to consider the impact of inflation and the increase in demand for services such as social care,” he said.

“We will now be looking beyond the announcements to see what the implications could be for Hampshire. The County Council has been preparing for a reduction in public spending and started work some time ago on a programme of work that will see the way the County Council operates and the services it delivers transformed to ensure that our spending is reduced in a way that is sustainable and avoids indiscriminate cuts. We have a good track record on making efficiencies and we are building on this with our cost reduction programme and by seeking new opportunities to raise income.

“We have vital responsibilities to our communities and by taking a long term view, we aim to reduce the impact on frontline services at the point of delivery as far as possible. Realistically though, even with the efficiencies we have made there will be tough decisions ahead and we will be involving the public in that debate from November.  We will have choices to make on which services might need to be reduced and those we can no longer justify in these economic times.  We will also continue to look for partners to share service provision with and we may not provide some services ourselves in the future.

“With staffing costs making up 51% of the County Council’s budget it is inevitable that we will see reductions in our workforce across all levels. We have introduced a number of measures that we hope will reduce the need for redundancies, including a recruitment freeze and a redeployment programme and a cut in senior management costs as well as potential department restructuring.

“The outcome of today’s Spending Review gives us a better steer on the scale of the savings that need to be delivered, but we will not have exact figures until we receive details of the County Council’s settlement in December and our review work is complete.

“Together with other Leaders I will be meeting Eric Pickles on Friday (22 Oct) for a discussion, and I imagine that he will be asking Leaders of local government how they intend delivering the Government cuts and how they will deal with the pressures of demographic growth and a council tax freeze.”

The next Cabinet meeting on 25 October we will receive a briefing on the outcome of the Comprehensive Spending Review and a further update on how our cost reduction programme is progressing, including the impact of the recruitment freeze so far."

Wokingham Borough Council

 We don't yet know how the comprehensive spending review precisely affects WBC.  It is important to know that less than 20% of our revenue comes from Whitehall.

For some time now, the council has been preparing for significant reductions in funding with our Transformation programme, which includes reshaping our services, seeking efficiencies, focussing on prevention and targeting our services to those most in need.  Our Transformation programme is on track and WBC is well placed to meet future challenges.

Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council

Cabinet member for Finance and Property Cllr James Lewin said:

“Public sector funding is going to be reduced year-on-year. We'll have to take some tough decisions about what we spend money on and have to find better ways of providing the important public services we all need.

“What we have done already has put us in a strong position for the coming years.  Next year we are able to avoid any major reductions to services and also to avoid any reduction in grant funding for those organisations that run services on our behalf this year.  We will then work with those who help us to provide services to our communities to look at economies they can make to cope with reduced funding available in future years.

“This challenge involves the council, working closely with partners to look at how services could be delivered differently and more cost effectively.  We will act in the best interest of our residents.  Times will be tough, but we're committed to lead the borough into a prosperous future, where individuals, families and businesses can thrive. That’s why we are investing resources in projects that will bring jobs and future prosperity, for example the regeneration of Basing View and The Malls.”