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Council expenditure down 32% under Cameron as PM

The value of council spending in England has fallen by almost a third as a result of government cuts since David Cameron became Prime Minister, according to new figures.

Expenditure per head fell by 17.2% between 2009/10 and 2015/16 in cash terms - from £1,969 to £1,630 - but when inflation is taken into account this represents a drop of 32%, analysis by the Chartered Institute for Public Finance and Accountancy (Cipfa) found.

The figures include new data for the current financial year, which show local authority budgets falling in every part of the country except the South East, with the largest declines compared with 2014/15 seen in the North East (down 4.9%), Yorkshire and the Humber ( down 4.7%) and the West Midlands (down 3.8%)

The biggest cuts to council departments are in housing - which is losing 9.9% of its budget this year - followed by planning and development (down 9.8%). Other services to see annual falls this year include adult social care (down 2%), education (down 2.4%), culture (down 4.5%) and children's social care (down 0.4%), said Cipfa.

However, funding for highways and transport is increasing by 2.2%, with much of the extra cash concentrated in Greater London and the South East.

Cipfa chief executive Rob Whiteman said: "These figures will paint a worrying picture for many councils across England and hammer home how, despite rising demand for frontline services, there has been little or no respite in funding reductions to local authority budgets.

"To survive in this tough economic climate it's absolutely right for councils to have a rigorous focus on value for money and work more effectively with the wider public sector to deliver savings for taxpayers and better outcomes for local communities.

"That's why we believe there needs to be substantial reforms to our systems of public financial management with greater alignment of local public services and for the Government to budget for the medium to long term if public services are to be sustainable over the next decade."

According to the annual data collected by Cipfa and the Department for Communities and Local Government, 2015/16 spending reductions in cash terms compared with last year amount to 3.3% in the South West , 3.2% in the North West, 2.7% in the East of England, 1.1% in the East Midlands and 1% in Greater London, with only the South East outside the capital holding its spending level with a 0% decrease.

Total service expenditure for 2015/16 by local authorities in England - excluding new responsibilities for public health - will be £88.5 billion, down 2.4% from the £90.7 billion recorded in 2014/15 and 17.2% from the £100.6 billion in 2009/10, according to Cipfa's figures.

This equates to a fall in spending per head - before inflation is taken into account - from £1,969 in 2009/10 to £1,767 in 2013/14 and £1,695 in 2014/15 to £1,630 this year.

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