Amanda Fitzgerald and Ruth Lupton
Published 15 May 2014
Key Points: London local government has taken a 33 per cent real terms cut in service funding from central government between 2009/10 and 2013/14. Councils have been making strenuous efforts to make large savings without cutting front line services, and to protect services for those who need them most. Most savings have come through efficiencies, the sorts of savings which Councils have argued are neither detrimental to, nor noticeable at, the frontline. However, Councils have, reluctantly, had to reduce their own role in the provision of discretionary services. More of these services are being delivered by voluntary and community sector partners, so the landscape of local service provision has seen some change. The need for Councils to pare their own provision back to statutory services, increasingly targeting those most in need, may, ultimately, result in less local variation rather than more. In this the cuts could be running counter to the promotion of the localism agenda. A focus on the most in need, seen in greater targeting of services, could also further fuel rising demand, as lower level need goes unaddressed. Council officers and Members are concerned that the 'limits of efficiency' have been reached, and there is little scope for further large-scale savings without significant effects on frontline services.