Cameron criticised for complaining about local cuts


David Cameron has raised concerns about cuts being made by his local council, despite the fact his government is responsible for budget slashes…

In what can only be described as a bizarre story, Prime Minister David Cameron has complained about cuts being made in his local constituency, despite being responsible for scaling back local authority budgets. The story was reported by the Oxford Mail and saw the PM argue with Conservative leader of Oxfordshire County Council Ian Hudspeth over the depth of cuts in the area.

In a series of letters, Cameron said he was disappointed by planned cuts for children’s and elderly day centres, as well as libraries. He also claimed spending for the region had increased recently, hinting that he did not see the need for cuts due to this.

Hudspeth, who countered the criticism in a six-page letter, said the PM’s comments were “inaccurate”. He pointed out that Oxfordshire had made a series of cuts, such as reducing the number of employees by 3,000 over the past five years.

Under Cameron’s Conservative majority—and indeed the former coalition administration—central government has cut funds for local authorities to the bone. All councils across the country have been forced to reduce services in a bid to make savings demanded by the government. It is, therefore, strange that Cameron has raised these concerns.

The letter was published days after the government announced funding for the communities and local government department would be cut by a third. Chancellor George Osborne will confirm this during the spending review later this month.

In the letter, Cameron wrote: “I was disappointed at the long list of suggestions floated to make significant cuts to frontline services.”

He added: “I would have hoped that Oxfordshire would instead be following the best practice of Conservative councils from across the country in making back-office savings and protecting the frontline.

“Your briefing note suggested that £204m had been taken out of the budget since 2010… The fact of the matter is that spending has actually increased in recent years.

“The briefing note made no mention of the work that could be done to generate savings in a more creative manner… this process is an opportunity for the council to review its public property, to dispose of surplus assets.

“This is not just about councils – much can be done to [also] improve co-operation between blue light services.”

Cameron also claimed in his letter that net expenditure for the county council rose from £341m in 2009/10 to £438m in 2015—an assertion that Hudspeth denied.

He said: “The council is moving cautiously and trying to maintain services, however, there will be difficult decisions to be taken since I have to deliver a balanced budget on February 16, 2016.

“I am open to all suggestions that will help. Our revenue support grant funding has fallen by almost 50 per cent in the first half of this decade…

“Other funding streams have not kept pace with this, particularly in real terms. Your letter fails to acknowledge additional functions transferred to local authorities.

“The council tax referendum threshold has meant we have been unable to keep pace with our challenges by using local revenue-raising powers.

“I cannot emphasise enough that £204m is not a cumulative figure… cumulative savings since 2010/11 are in fact £626m.

“Our significant savings over recent years have included taking out as much from the back-office as possible.”

Cameron’s letter, according to critics, simply highlights how out of touch he is with local authorities and the impact of cuts enacted by his own administration.


  1. This story has not had the attention it deserves given the focus on international terrorism in the past couple of weeks. It’s a PM’s fixation to be looking for how history will remember them and assuming this will come from the international stage and some act of statesmanship. Cameron will be remembered for the death of local government services, the redistribution of wealth from the working and lower middle classes and the breaking up of urban working class communities. Not a legacy to be proud of!

  2. Further evidence of the disconnect between the Cabinet and reality is the succession of counter intuitive policies that result in the oft used phrase: Unintended Consquences. Unidentified Consequences due to a criminal lack of understanding of the challenges facing Local Government may be more appropriate…..but, there again, when you are driving ideological change under the camouflage of economic necessity….are they really ‘unintended’?

  3. As a wealthy man Cameron wont feel the pain caused by his parties fiscal policies, this articles shows his own constituents will. Perhaps they will reward him through the ballot box, unfortunately that will hurt the people he is criticising as well. None so Blind as they that will not see!!

  4. How dare he say that ‘I would have hoped that Oxfordshire would instead be following the best practice of Conservative councils from across the country in making back-office savings and protecting the frontline.’

    Conservative councils are doing nothing of the sort! Just look at the over 50% slash to the budget of public libraries services in Barnet ..majority conservative and slashing as much from the frontline as they can…what a hypocrit!!

  5. This was reported in the Guardian but noticeable by its absence elsewhere in the media. It seems that David Cameron is not so much hoodwinking the public as I thought, but stupidly believing his own rhetoric. Local Authorities have no “back office” staff left and are scraping by by selling off public assets. Local Authority services are on their knees and continuing in many cases because of the goodwill of the dedicated staff.

  6. Oxfordshire CC will now be providing only minimum statutory services – although for libraries they are already in breach of the Public Libraries Act since they cannot be said to be providing a comprehensive library service.

    There will be NO subsidies to bus services in the county, NO children’s centres, NO dial-a-ride service for the elderly; a much reduced mobile library services….

    Last time Cameron complained (about a reduction in Children’s Centres and Libraries), his govt miraculously produced a sum for OCC which bridged the gap and saved them (in part) – but he called the grant something else. We can expect the same slight of hand in the PSR/Local Govt settlement in Nov/Dec – but fundamentally the cuts of 50-70% in local govt finance since 2010 will continue, hitting worst those authorities which do not have access to New Homes Bonus money or who cannot benefit from the transfer of the business rates – in other words, the poorest authorities in the north.

    That Cameron is so ignorant about the effects of his own cuts on his own constituency is tragic (but then again well healed Chipping Norton will not feel the effects, He lives in a wealthy cocoon) – but that is as nothing compared to what the effect of these cuts are in the north of the country in areas such as West Yorkshire and the North East/West.


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