Committee tears into Tory government financing of public services

Mismanagement and financial strain afflict a raft of public services, according to a national audit.

Children at school development centre

Essential services in the UK are all but falling apart under the Tories, an in-depth study of public accounts for 2017-2019 shows.

Meg Hillier, chair of the House of Commons committee of public accounts, warned on Thursday that the UK’s education and health/social care infrastructure in particular is under massive financial strain, with other areas of concern ranging from defence to taxation, DEFRA and Brexit.

“There are many serious issues that Government needs to tackle,” she wrote in the 30-page report. “Good politics needs to be about planning for the long term as well as dealing with today’s concerns and reacting to events.”

Hillier said people are not considered at an early-enough stage of planning, with funding often not going to the right places, for example, in the railways.

In the education arena, UK schools in general were under major financial strain, with academies getting too free a hand and social care failures too frequent. This was “worrying”, she wrote.

“We asked the Department and, in turn, Ofsted about the impact of funding pressures on the quality of education, but Ofsted has been unable, or unwilling, to tell us.

“The Education Committee’s recent inquiry into school and college funding only confirmed our concerns: teachers’ unions and professional bodies described the funding situation, including capital funding cuts, as a crisis, with schools making cuts and using up their reserves,” Hillier said.

Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said: “This latest data shows the unacceptable consequences of the school funding crisis and the numbers of teachers being driven out of the profession through the Government’s failure to address workload and teacher pay.

“Teacher recruitment continues to lag behind increases in pupil numbers, resulting in fewer teachers per pupil.”

Courtney said that in UK secondary schools, full-time equivalent teacher numbers have fallen by over 10,000 in the last four years, despite an increase of almost 150,000 pupils.

Teaching assistant numbers in secondary schools also continue to fall, by 3% in the last year alone and by over 15% in the last five years, he said.

The second biggest area of concern is healthcare. The national accounts committee said that reports showing a “balanced” financial situation within the NHS masked deficits in funding at local level.

“In 2017–18, 101 of the 234 NHS Providers (NHS Trust and Foundation Trusts) were in deficit at the end of the financial year and NHS Providers reported a total deficit of £991 million,” according to Hillier.

“It is unacceptable to simply offset surplus and deficits across the entire organisation in the presentation of overall budget results.”

Themes of financial strain, misallocation of funds, and misguided strategies continued throughout the nine main areas of concern in the committee’s report into public accounts over the 2017-2019 period.

Fleur Doidge is a freelance writer at Left Foot Forward. Follow her on Twitter.

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3 Responses to “Committee tears into Tory government financing of public services”

  1. nshgp

    I wouldn’t trust the public accounts committee with running the proverbial whelk stall.

    They haven’t worked out that PFI is hidden off the books

    They haven’t worked out that EU debts are hidden off the books

    They haven’t worked out that the state pension debts are hidden off the books

    They haven’t worked out that public sector workers pensions are hidden off the books

    They haven’t worked out that nuclear clean up debts are hidden off the books

    They haven’t worked out that PFI is hidden off the books

    ….

    220 bn a year going on the debts. A small percentage of that Fleur would fix the problem.

    So why aren’t you paying your share of the debts. You owe £450,000 plus interest. Your share of the socialist debts.

    Because you aren’t paying your fair share, cuts are being made

  2. Tom Sacold

    Cut our payments to the EU
    Cut our funding of foreign aid to places like India & Pakistan who can afford to develop their own nuclear weapons.

    That would be more than enough to fund our care service and NHS properly.

  3. Patrick Newman

    Uniquely we have a government that clearly could not care less about the state of public services. Starving the public sector of basic funding has become a religion for today’s Tory Party. If Labour should be lucky enough to regain power they must have ready an emergency recovery programme for public services similar to the contingency planning for a no deal Brexit. An immediate sum of £20bn will have to be made available to effect such a plan.

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