Thursday, 31 May 2012

Camden Plan means tough decisions around priorities

Camden's strategic plan for the next 5 years (a.k.a. The Camden Plan) has been published, starting a debate about priorities for the council at a time of very significant cuts to budgets and major legislative changes in welfare, planning, education and health.

Due to the wide range of statutory duties and array of government targets on most areas of activity, previous council strategies often came across as all-things-to-all people.  While the new plan also covers the broad scope of council activity, there is a strong thread running through the Plan around growth and tackling inequality.

The new government settlement in 2014 will set spending for the next 3 years.  In Camden we ear projecting another deep round of cuts - to the tune of another £40-£50 million in revenue spending lost over the period.

While the previous 3 year fiscal plan for the borough was set in the context of the strategy set out by the outgoing Tory-Lib Dem administration, this one will establish new priorities.  The challenge here ultimately boils down to addressing this question:  in order to do more in emerging areas of social need (e.g. apprenticeships and employment) what do we fund less of? 


Ultimately choosing priorities means winners and losers.  For the Left prioritising means more political ownership over budgetary decisions than before - a political challenge in itself.  But, as I have argued elsewhere, there are now clear choices we can make - perhaps unlike the 2011 Budget-setting process - which could show the real differences in approach between Labour-run local authorities and the others.


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