Rob Whiteman, Chief Executive of CIPFA, the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy, has responded to the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement 2014 delivered today.
Speaking after the statement, he responded to concerns over the future of the public finances and public service delivery, the additional pressure facing local authorities, especially around business rates and long-term funding for the NHS.
Speaking on the public finances and the pressures now faced by public services after the Chancellors Autumn Statement, Rob Whiteman, said:
“The staggering pressure now upon public services, with continued budget reductions to come well beyond the end of this Parliament, means they face increasing challenges to maintain delivery for taxpayers.
“When you add in the impact of the ring-fencing of some budgets, such as the NHS and the protection of pensioners, the significance of the cuts still to come for other areas of public spending could damage their ability to deliver.
“However, today’s statement contained little recognition of this and no explanation from the Government about how public services will continue under such long-term pressures.
“CIPFA has long argued that we need to move beyond the short-term nature of funding in this country and avoid measures aimed only at the next political cycle. As we stated in our recent Manifesto, we urgently need to start to address our long-term challenges and work to fix the public finances for the next decade, not just the next election.”
On the changes to business rates announced today Rob Whiteman said:
“As Whitehall now only takes half the money raised by business rates, with the rest going to local government to fund services, it is concerning that the Chancellor could be dipping into someone else pocket to pay for his business rates tax cuts.
“Local authorities are working hard to continue to deliver for local people, so to potentially lose over £380m next year could have a significant impact upon their ability to serve the needs of those they are supposed to.
“And while the review into business rates is welcome, even if it looks likely to be much delayed, it is important that it carefully considers the impact of changes upon funding local government. We would hope that its remit will include a review of the scope for greater local control over both income and the level of the business rates.”
On increases in NHS funding announced at the Autumn Statement Rob Whiteman said:
“While additional funds announced for the NHS by the Chancellor are welcome and necessary to relieve current pressures, a continual sticking plaster approach to NHS funding isn’t sustainable in the long-term.
“Instead, CIPFA would call for a whole system approach to the NHS with significant investment now in public health to lessen long-term acute spending pressures and to better manage future increases in demand.
“And we need a commitment from politicians that they will make no further structural changes to the way the NHS operate until we have a grip on its finances.
“Fundamentally we also urgently need an open and honest debate between the public and the political parties about what the NHS will need to survive of the next 10 to 20 years, we must accept that parts of the system may require alternative funding models such as payments or self-insurance if they are to continue.”
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