Liz Truss MP was speaking about the Government’s 2019 Spending Review at the LGA’s annual finance conference in Smith Square. She told delegates the Treasury was doing a zero-base review of capital spending but would also, for the first time, be looking at human capital.
“It’s very easy to assess the value of a bridge or a piece of broadband. It’s less easy to look at the spending on areas like education and health and say exactly how is that going to help somebody’s opportunities.
“I want to get better at measuring that, so that we can make sure every extra pound we’re spending is achieving the maximum possible result, because there are parts of this country where, frankly, our aspirations are not what they should be…we’re not giving everyone the opportunity they need to have.”
Ms Truss was keen to learn from local government’s experience of what works, and said that central government has much to learn from councils. She also championed early intervention as a way not only of saving money across public services but “more importantly” getting better outcomes for people.
The Spending Review also has to be about making more decisions locally, she said.
“One of the main reasons that people voted to leave the EU was they were frustrated by decisions being made by bureaucrats in Brussels. We’re not going to satisfy the demand for people to have more control over their own lives if those decisions get made by bureaucrats in Whitehall,” she told the conference.
Also speaking at the event were James Brokenshire MP, Housing, Communities and Local Government Secretary, who talked about business rates retention and the fair funding review; and Andrew Gwynne MP, Shadow Communities and Local Government Secretary, who talked about Labour’s plans for local government finance.