Cultural services have seen bigger cuts than social care but are not the worst affected, according to a National Audit Office report.

Queen's Theatre Hornchurch
Queen's Theatre Hornchurch: facing local authority cuts of £200k a year

Culture has been disproportionately targeted for local authority spending cuts, according to a new National Audit Office (NAO) report examining The Impact of Funding Reductions on Local Authorities. The report finds that in general, councils have tried to protect spending on social care services while other service areas, including culture and leisure, have seen larger reductions. In 2010, ‘Cultural and related spend’ accounted for 7% of all Council spending across England, but this sector will be responsible for finding 16% of all savings that Councils must make by 2015.  To achieve this, average cuts being applied to culture budgets across the country are 28.9%, with county councils and single tier councils applying slightly larger cuts than district councils. But the way that authorities have responded to the funding reductions has varied across the country, and some other services have experienced more substantial cuts in spending than this, including advice for vulnerable people, which has fallen by 45%, and spending on services for young people, by 34%.
A second NAO report, also published this week, provides a further commentary on the impact of local authority funding cuts and is critical of the information supplied to the Treasury on the predicted impact of government cuts to local authorities. The report on The Financial Sustainability of Local Authorities 2014 reveals that, during the 2013 Spending Review, the DCMS presented qualitative analysis of potential risk of cuts to cultural services, but failed to quantify potential impacts financially.

Liz Hill