Brexit will make the next spending review harder than past years, warns a new report by the Institute for Government. The report calls on the Treasury to end confusion around the 2019 Spending Review by explaining whether or not austerity is over, and if the plans will cover one year or three years.
Published today, The 2019 Spending Review: how to run it well says that while the UK is good at setting and sticking to budgets compared to other countries, there are big problems in the way the Treasury divides money between departments.
The report says that spending reviews – held every three years or so to allocate money to different parts of government – are often reduced to a contest between ministers for scraps of spare cash, fought out in high-profile media spats. The Treasury doesn’t look at performance when allocating money for public services, while high staff turnover undermines expertise in judging what spending is needed.
This report is the first by the Institute in a sustained look at the Treasury, the most powerful department in Whitehall. It identifies ways to tackle some of the recurrent failings of spending reviews ahead of 2019 and says the Government must:
- Decide whether the review is for three years or whether Brexit makes only one year possible.
- Explain its aims for the performance of health, education and other key public services.
- Explain where money is available, where more will come from and how much needs to be borrowed.