Today’s budget took place against the backdrop of a growing Coronavirus threat. We welcome the serious response to the immediate challenge laid out by the new Chancellor, including a raft of funding measures focused on supporting the NHS, businesses and people most at-risk.
However, it is vital that these funds – from statutory sick pay support to loans and grant funding – benefit charities as well as businesses. Charities are important employers who will be under additional pressure working with affected communities. We will be working with colleagues across the sector to ensure small and medium sized charities – as well as businesses – are able to access this support.
Beyond the coronavirus threat, we are pleased the Chancellor recognises our imbalanced economic model, which we know hasn’t benefitted all places equally. But the measures announced today risk relying on the traditional approaches which have led us here in the first place. We’ve heard from our members time and time again that big ticket infrastructure projects struggle to reach poorer communities. And increasing cash alone won’t deal with root causes of pressure on public services and rising poverty. Detail on the UK Shared Prosperity Fund was also a notable omission from today’s budget.
We need a different approach to go with new money – one that keeps it local and puts communities in charge. The good news is that the announcement of the spending review process gives us the opportunity to do that. With the increased size of spending envelope announced, we will work with government to make sure it’s spent in the right way to deliver on their priorities.
We were also pleased to see the announcement of a new devolution deal in West Yorkshire and extended powers for areas with existing devolution deals. However, we want ensure that any turbo-charged devolution agenda involves meaningful powers being held at the neighbourhood level. The forthcoming devolution white paper and a proper consultation on social care represent clear opportunities for the government to make good on its ‘levelling up’ promise. We’ll be on hand to lay out how they can unlock the power of community to do this.
Tony Armstrong, Chief Executive, Locality