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The holidays will soon be over Matthew Warburton - 10/08/2012

be_prepared_300This week the front page of my daily newspaper has been evenly split between pictures of the latest Team GB medallists and dire warnings from the Governor of the Bank of England about the state of the British economy.

The holiday atmosphere stimulated by Olympic success and - finally - some good weather should not lull anyone into thinking that the economy has turned the corner, or that the outlook for the public finances has improved.

Discussion has already begun, if not yet officially in Whitehall, on the next round of public spending cuts, and speeches by the Prime Minister and others a few weeks ago signal that the welfare budget will be a target for further cuts, whether before the general election, if the Liberals agree, or after it if the Conservatives are re-elected to government.

Councils with housing may feel that they have enough on their plates with self-financing and the other provisions of the Localism Act, and Universal Credit coming up fast. No major piece of housing-related legislation has been trailed for the next session of Parliament, but this does not mean that the government's policy agenda for this parliament has run its course.

It is time to start looking for clues as to what could be next for councils with housing, both in the remainder of this Parliament and looking ahead to the next. And in deciding where to look and what to look for, bear in mind that reducing the deficit remains the top priority policy driver.

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