Spending review 2019: survey of councils


This report presents the findings of a survey used to gather evidence on recent savings and efficiencies made by councils – and the financial pressures they currently face. The survey offers new financial data, not available from other published sources, such as savings and efficiencies derived from digital or data solutions. The main themes of the survey were :

  • the responses taken by councils to manage cost pressures
  • the ability of councils to deliver in the face of continuing cost pressures
  • the impact of cost pressures on residents
  • the additional services run by councils despite cost pressures
  • the stewardship of grants by councils intended to ease cost pressures 
  • any innovative work councils have carried out to cope with cost pressures.

Key findings

  • Councils have saved an estimated £356 per household across the four years following the last Spending Review (2016-17 to 2019-20).
  • Grossing the savings figures submitted by 130 councils for the observed time period, councils in England have saved estimated £10.98 billion for the period 2016-17 to 2019-20.
  • Councils in the sample achieved savings and efficiencies by generating additional income (95 per cent of councils), transforming one or more services using digital solutions (90 per cent of councils) and contract renegotiation (84 per cent of councils).
  • Most savings and efficiencies were made through renegotiated contracts (£342.7 million in 72 councils) and by transforming one or more services using digital and data solutions (£159 million in 70 councils).
  • A total of £564.5 million had been raised by income generation in 101 councils, and a total of £1.1 billion capital receipts had been received in 71 councils.
  • Councils in the sample were least confident about highways/transport (90 per cent of councils) and public health (90 per cent of councils) being protected from further cuts in the next four years. Children’s services were the greatest funding concern among councils in the sample (82 per cent of counties and 69 per cent of single tier authorities).
  • Forty one per cent of councils (56 councils) said, based on current funding, they thought it was likely that their authority would no longer have enough funding to fulfil all its statutory duties from 2021-22 or later.
Final Spending Review survey report 2019 COVER
Published by:
LGA Research
Reference code: