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26 June 2013 | Adam Leach
Ministers and civil servants charged with delivering efficiency savings should look no further than Eric Pickles for inspiration, according to the chancellor of the exchequer.
During today’s spending review, in which George Osborne announced a series of deep cuts to departmental budgets, the chancellor praised the Conservative MP for Brentwood and Ongar for his work cutting costs at the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG). In particular, Pickles was praised for reducing the size of the department by 60 per cent and abolishing 12 quangos.
Osborne said: “My right honourable friend, the communities secretary, has set an example to all his colleagues in reducing the size of his department. He is the model of lean government.”
The chancellor accompanied his endorsement with the announcement that DCLG will see its budget cut by a further 10 per cent in 2015/16. Referencing criticisms levelled at previous cuts to local government spending, he said: “We were told by the scaremongerers that savings in local government would decimate local services. Instead, public satisfaction with local council services has gone up.”
Osborne also praised the work of Sir Merrick Cockell, chairman of the Local Government Association, in enabling the delivery of public services to withstand budget cuts. But, in his response to today’s announcement, Cockell said the cuts would have a significant impact on services. “Today's 10 per cent cash cut comes on top of the 33 per cent real-terms cut already made to council budgets and confirms local government as the hardest-hit part of the public sector,” he said. “Local services on which people rely will have to be significantly reduced as a result. No area of spending can be totally immune and some services will be wound down entirely.”