Planning and highways spending slashed

Copied from Local Government Chronicle on line
29 August, 2013 | By Ruth Keeling

Planning and highways have seen the largest reductions in spending, according to the latest local government financial data published on Thursday.

Expenditure on planning services fell by 13.2% between 2011-12 and 2012-13 while spending on highways and transport services fell by 9.5% over the same period.

The cut in spending on services linked to growth, a number one priority for the government, contrasts with much smaller cuts in social care spending and increases in spending on housing benefit costs.

The LGA has previously warned that the combination of growing demand for social care services and significant funding cuts would mean spending in other areas, such as planning and highways, would be squeezed harder and harder.

Social care spending fell by just 0.2%. However that masked a different story for children’s social care, where spending increased by 2.8%, and adult social care, where spending fell by 1.4%.

Other areas of increased spending were housing benefit costs, which increased by almost 5%.

Although education spending fell by 7.7%, government statisticians warned that comparisons should not be made over the two years because the reduction was caused by academies leaving local authority control.

While total revenue expenditure fell by 5% between 2011-12 and 2012-13, the reduction was just 0.2% once changes to education responsibilities and funding were removed from the comparison.

The figures also show that councils increased their reserve levels by £1.7bn, not including a £0.9bn addition to the Greater London Authority’s reserves.

However, there were a quarter of councils which did not add to reserves and ended the year with less in the bank.

Desperation planning policies emerging

From reading an item pitching Eric Pickles as the saviour of the English bowling green! I’ve been reminded of little gem from earlier this year.

Grant Shapps: Communities to be given a right to reclaim land

Published 2 February 2011
Housing Minister Grant Shapps today announced plans to give members of the public the right to reclaim and develop hundreds of acres of unused public sector land and buildings, which are currently trapped in a bureaucratic quagmire. The new Community Right to Reclaim Land will help communities to improve their local area by using disused publicly owned land for new development.
Given all the rhetoric surrounding the NPPF, the housing shortage and now the recent piece of planning policy desperation- house boats – all I can do is repeat my previous observations on this piece of nonsense.
The reason why it is nonsense is two fold. Firstly, a large amount of the land owned by the public sector is remote areas unconnected with existing development and therefore falling outside of the definition of sustainable development. Of course that was the definition of sustainable development that made some sense, as opposed to the abstract one DCLG seems to favour now. The second reason this is nonsense, is because of it’s reference to communities rushing out to scoop up redundant land and develop it as a way of improving their area.
There may well be one or two communities wishing to grab and build, but they will almost certainly be the exception. Of course, if communities were able to acquire redundant land in order to prevent anything being built on it, now that would be a completely different story!

Developers are far from hungry

I see the developers are taking full advantage of all the publicity about the housing shortage, to take yet another swipe at the planning system, in cahoots with various ministers of Government.

Behind all their whaling and whining, hides the fact that, difficult times or not, the industry still has hundreds of thousands of planning permissions they have not implemented. Why isn’t Greg Clark berating the building industry and asking why they aren’t building what they’ve already got, instead of moaning about wanting more? to paraphrase Oliver Twist, ‘Please sir, my bowl is already quite full, but can I have some more anyway!’.