Peterborough ‘desperately’ needs more money despite government Spending Review increases, warns council leader

Cllr John Holdich
Cllr John Holdich
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The leader of Peterborough City Council has welcomed new spending increases announced by the Chancellor today (Wednesday), but warned there is still a ‘desperate’ need for more money.

Sajid Javid used a fast-tracked spending review statement in a febrile House of Commons to pledge more money for schools, hospitals, police, local transport and defence totalling £13.8 billion extra next year.

Mr Javid said the extra money would focus on “people’s priorities” and end spending squeezes for all departments.

The funding increase is the fastest in 15 years and, for the first time since 2010, will boost money in real terms in those Whitehall departments unprotected from a decade of cuts.

However, Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell branded the spending spree as “a compendium of grubby electioneering” and said the Government was “pretending to end austerity when they do nothing of the sort”.

Among the most populist announcements were an extra £6.2 billion in NHS funding, including an extra £1.5 billion for social care that can be accessed by councils. Local authorities will also be able to impose an extra two per cent council tax levy for social care.

Moreover, an additional £2.6 billion was pledged for schools – a 3.3 per cent real terms increase on last year - and £200 million to “transform” bus services.

Further promises included £54 million of new funding to address homelessness and rough sleeping.

The Government will also provide an additional £700 million to support children with special educational needs next year, as well as £400 million more for further education.

Teachers’ starting salaries will also rise to £30,000 a year by 2022/23.

Funding will also continue for the Troubled Families Programme.

Peterborough City Council has seen its government funding slashed and will have to make savings of around £25 million in next year’s budget.

Council leader Cllr John Holdich said: “Any additional funding is good news given the fact we have seen our main government grant reduce by 80 per cent since 2010.

“It demonstrates that ministers are listening to our pleas for more money to meet a rising demand for services and that the lobbying we have done behind the scenes is paying off.

“I am pleased that the key areas such as adult social care, education and homelessness are set to benefit, but there are other areas too where we desperately need more money. Our roads, for example, which can put everyone at risk if they are not maintained.

“We await further information from government in the coming weeks about how much funding we are to receive.”

Mr Javid also today unveiled a significant funding boost to defence, going beyond the two per cent year-on-year target set by NATO, with £2.2 billion extra for the armed services.

Moreover, there will be a 6.3 per cent real terms increase in Home Office spending which will include £750 million for 20,000 police officers – one of the flagship policies of the Prime Minister’s leadership campaign – and a five per cent increase for the Ministry of Justice to fund extra prison places.