Spending Review: Councils take the brunt
The chancellor has just announced cuts in council spending by over a quarter over four years. He also announced that he was removing ring-fenced grants. It reminds me of the old Whitehall saying: "Governments with money centralise and claim the credit, those without decentralise and spread the blame".
Update 13:05: A fair cop?
Police budgets are to be cut by 14% over four years but the chancellor says his "aim is to avoid any reduction in the visibility and availability of police on our streets". That will only happen if the police agree to massive changes to cuts in their overtime and radical changes to their working practices.
I note that the chancellor is using annual cuts rather than four-year cumulative figures and that he is refusing to predict implied job losses - except that is for endorsing the document seen in Danny Alexander's car yesterday which repeats the Office of Budget Responsibility forecast of 490,000 public-sector job losses over four years.
Update 13:06: Carry on working
The chancellor's big surprise announcement is that the state pension age will rise for both men and women to 66 starting in 2020. This is actually later that George Osborne proposed in his "age of austerity" speech as shadow chancellor at the Tory conference in 2009 when he proposed that this change would begin in 2016.
This raises no money in this Parliament or this Spending Review. It hits women particularly hard. Perhaps that's why he favoured delay.
Update 13:13: Welfare cuts
The chancellor's announced a series of complex welfare cuts raising £7bn. It's worth remembering that £7bn is equivalent to £1,000 taken from seven million people so it will hurt a lot of people.
Just one example, the 12-month limit to those living on "sickness benefit" who are not deemed incapable of work will, in particular, hit older men who used to be in manual jobs who think they've paid their "stamps" - national insurance contributions - to be on a benefit other than the dole.
Update 13:38: The Department of Communities and Local Government says council "funding" is to be reduced by a quarter, not council "spending" since councils also have funding from council tax. They tell me that spending will fall by about 14% once you add that in.
Update 13:41: The big winner is...
Other than the NHS and overseas aid the big winner of this Spending Review is the schools budget in England.
Having said that "winning" means a departmental cut of "only" 3.4% in real terms over four years and only ensures that "spending per pupil does not fall". My post last Friday pointed out that, nevertheless, some schools may lose whilst others gain.
This was the meant to be the rabbit pulled from the chancellor's hat.