Council directors’ body the Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning and Transport (ADEPT) has warned local services will be ‘severely compromised’ as a result of the latest round of heavy government cuts.
Chancellor George Osborne has already announced that the Department for Transport (DfT) and the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) – both of which fund local transport services - will suffer 30% cuts in day-to-day spending over the next four years.
They are joined by the Treasury and the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), which also agreed to the 30% fall in revenue funding in advance of the Spending Review.
Mike Ashworth, chair of ADEPT’s transport board said: ‘Obviously we need to see the details, but we urge the DfT to protect the agreed maintenance block, which is essential to keep our traffic moving and our businesses operating.
‘Any reduction in capital funding, coming on top of cuts already made, would have a severe impact on local authorities’ ability to deliver the Highways Asset Management plans - these are essential to maintain our highways and reduce spending in the longer-term.
‘Given that the minister Andrew Jones stated to ADEPT members last week that 'buses are the backbone of the economy' and the investments into public transport are essential, this does not sit well against the proposals to cut funding to DCLG, which could impact on other areas such as winter services and verge maintenance.
'We are concerned that our ability to deliver essential services, that the public also considers important, will be severely compromised.’
The chancellor is under pressure ahead of the 25 November spending announcement, with a large share of the Government's finances held in protected areas such as the NHS, and attempts to cut tax credits so far defeated by the Lords.
Initial modelling requests sent out to unprotected departments asked for officials to plan for cuts of 25% and 40%, giving Mr Osborne room to manoeuvre and allowing the DfT and DCLG to claim a victory in the face of greater potential losses.