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News release

Budget 2021: public sector response

Phillip Woolley, Head of Public Services Consulting, Grant Thornton UK LLP, said:

“Local government featured in a limited way in this year’s Budget, but it’s positive to see that the Chancellor confirmed there will be no step back into austerity measures. The sector will have been eager for an update on the timing of this year’s Spending Review, and the period it will cover, with the sector remaining uncertain of its funding position beyond March next year – but this was not forthcoming. There was also no indication from the Chancellor on the future funding of social care which has seen acute increases in demand this year partly as a result of the pandemic.

“The numerous programmes, initiatives and additional funding announced to support the economic and societal recovery are welcome and much needed, and will help support towns and communities as they start to recover from the pandemic. While some measures are targeted at specific regions, such as the new freeports, new economic development funding for local government appears to be limited to the funding from the new UK Infrastructure Bank; designed to increase infrastructure investment and promote economic recovery as part of the government’s levelling up agenda.

“An interesting element of the new Infrastructure Bank is the creation of a new advisory service which will provide support to project sponsors in the development and structure of projects. There are parallels with the advisory services provided by Scottish Futures Trust, and it’s encouraging to see support now set to be on offer across the whole of the UK.”