Spending on neighbourhood services in England continued to fall in the past year, reflecting local authority spending cuts. Local authorities have managed this by prioritising visible and critical aspects of services – such as health-critical food hygiene inspections – over aspects with fewer immediate impacts. Where that has not been enough, they have, in some cases, reduced service provision – such as reducing the number of libraries.
Public satisfaction with neighbourhood services has held up, indicating that they have become more efficient – delivering the same quality despite financial pressures. But declines in local authorities’ unallocated reserves since 2014/15 suggest that councils are increasingly unable to manage spending cuts by making efficiencies, and are instead drawing on one-off sources of money to balance their budgets.