Responding to the Spring Statement 2019, Rob Whiteman, CIPFA CEO, said:
“With the switch of budget announcements from spring to autumn we expected a statement of little substance, but with the added spectre of Brexit uncertainty, this was inevitably consigned to being an absolute dead rubber. There was little in the way of real commitments by the chancellor to any reprioritisation of spending, and despite an ‘end to austerity’ most of the public sector remains under strain.
“The most welcome piece of news was that the Spending Review will happen before the summer recess of Parliament, which would finally mean some greater certainty for the public sector on spending, at least for a few years. However as this is conditional on an orderly exit from the EU, and in light of last night’s meaningful vote, this seems far from guaranteed.
“Police will welcome an additional £100m for overtime, as well as for violent crime reduction units, which has been released immediately in order to address knife crime, but more policing is a short-term solution to this problem. In the long term greater funding must be directed to services which help young people earlier in life, such as children’s social care, education or other youth services.
“Otherwise the announcement of more help for first home buyers, and a series of reviews in areas such as addressing low pay, accessing private investment for infrastructure, and on clean growth, should be welcomed. But there is still much which is uncertain in the long term, and today we call again for more to be done to put government finances onto a sustainable pathway.
“The OBR’s fiscal sustainability report from July 2018 shows the UK will not be able to afford anything more than debt interest, health, social care and pension payments within 50 years at current levels of taxation. Tough decisions will have to be made, whether tax increases, lower expectations of services, more individual contributions or radical service changes.”
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CIPFA, the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy, is the professional body for people in public finance. CIPFA shows the way in public finance globally, standing up for sound public financial management and good governance around the world as the leading commentator on managing and accounting for public money.