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
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.