|DCLG ministerial team face Communities |
and Local Government Select Committee
Pickles explained that the reason he had front-loaded cuts on local government in the first year of the Comprehensive Spending Review period was to ensure that councils took a radical approach to making savings by restructuring rather than "salami-slicing" a little from every service.
When challenged over the scale of job cuts predicted by the LGA, Pickles said that it was hugely important that job cuts come from middle management. He praised the actions of Liverpool City Council where, he said, middle management posts had been reduced from 72 to 38. This, together with some salary cuts, saved £4.2m.
Pickles acknowledged that some parts of the country were seeing massive cuts imposed by councils in Supporting People services. He said "I completely deprecate that", but claimed that most local authorities are protecting Supporting People services. However "one of the consequences of localism is that you have to allow local communities to make decisions as to where that spending goes. I think that most sensible local authorities will come to the conclusion that every pound spent on Supporting People is probably going to save them five or six quid further down the line."
He went on "It would be a very brave local authority that cut Supporting People and protected the centre and continued to have very large middle management costs."
The Secretary of State said that new transparency rules requiring councils to publish details of their spending on line would improve accountability to local people.
However, when pressed about how easily local people would be able to access information about the Supporting People element of their local authority's allocation in order to hold them to account his answer was less than convincing - apparently it's on page 60 of a "big thick booklet" published by DCLG about the local government spending settlement.