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English local government funding: trends and issues in 2019 and beyond

You can download the slides presented at this launch event here.

The 2010s have seen councils have to adapt to big changes to their funding. Not only have funding levels - and hence what councils can spend - fallen significantly, major reforms to the funding system have seen an increasing emphasis on using funding to provide financial incentives for development, with less emphasis on redistribution according to spending need.

As we approach a new decade and a further set of funding reforms, IFS researchers will be releasing their first annual report on local government revenue and spending issues, supported by our Local Government Finance and Devolution Consortium. Building on the analysis of key funding issues facing local government that we have undertaken over the last few years, this report will update and extend our analysis of what has happened to local government revenues and spending, and what the short and longer term financial outlook for councils is.

At this event, IFS researchers will present key findings from this new report, focusing on issues such as:

  • How have local government revenues and spending changed since 2009-10 and over the last few years in particular? Going beyond high-level figures, which parts of the country have seen the biggest cuts and why? Which services have borne the brunt of the cuts? To what extent have different councils been making different choices over what services to prioritise, and how much to raise from taxes and charges? And how do trends in England compare to those in Scotland?
  • How have different parts of the country fared under two funding schemes designed to incentivise development – the business rates retention scheme and the new homes bonus? To what extent do the patterns reflect the particular design of the schemes? And what evidence is there about whether the incentives inherent in the schemes are having their intended impacts?
  • What do the government’s plans for funding in 2020-21 mean for different councils? Looking further ahead, will councils have sufficient funding to meet the rising demand for and cost of local public services? And if not, what are the options for filling the hole?

Following the presentations there will be a question and answer session and panel discussion chaired by Heather Jameson, editor of the MJ, including: Jonathan House, Partner at PwC; Andy Burns, Associate Director at CIPFA; and Chris Naylor, Chief Executive of Baking and Dagenham Council.

Registration will take place between 9:30 and 10:00, and the event will commence at 10:00. 

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