Headlines from the Ministry of Justice settlement
- Overall resource savings of 15% by 2019-20 including by delivering efficiencies within the prisons and courts system.
- Savings to the department’s administrative budget of 50% by 2019-20.
- Building of 9 new prisons, 5 in this Parliament and 4 shortly after; ensuring that prison supports rehabilitation more effectively. This represents £1.3 billion of capital investment over the next 5 years.
- More than £700 million investment in the courts and tribunals system to create a swifter, more proportionate justice system, which will generate savings of approximately £200 million a year from 2019-20.
Today the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osbourne MP, announced the Spending Review and Autumn Statement setting out the Government’s spending plans until 2020 - click here to download the full spending review document and, click here to see the Ministry of Justice’s summary of the settlement. This has been much anticipated by many in the voluntary sector, lots of us pensive about the consequences of further cuts and the impact of those on the vulnerable people that many Clinks’ members support. Back in September, Clinks submitted evidence to the Treasury, making recommendations on spending decisions that would impact on the Criminal Justice System (CJS) – click here to download Clinks' submission.
The Secretary of State for Justice, Michael Gove, made the following statement after the publication of the spending review:
“This Spending Review allows us to create a one nation justice system which better serves the public. It provides the funding we need to reform the courts, so they provide swift and certain justice. We will also transform prisons, so they become places of rehabilitation - helping to reduce reoffending, cut crime, and improve public safety”
Today we have a little more clarity about where investment is going, and where savings will be made. Below we have summarised the key issues that we think are likely to affect our members. However, details of how this will affect specific budgets is likely to emerge over the next few weeks.
We have also commented on the spending review as part of the Making Every Adult Matter coalition which focusses on improving services for people with multiple and complex needs. The coalition remains confident that there is interest across government in how to better coordinate services for these people, and some of the changes announced are a step in the right direction, although we believe a key opportunity has been missed in this spending review to address the issue.
The impact on the Ministry of Justice
The 15% overall cut to departmental budgets was much less than expected, especailly for an unprotected department like the Ministry of Justice. However, we will need to understand what a 50% cut in the Ministry of Justice’s administrative budget (by 2019-20) means for the department’s structure and what impact this will have for agencies such as the National Offender Management Service and Youth Justice Board. This will inevitably mean a shrinking of the department, but we will have to wait and see when, where and how.
Prisons - out with the old, in with the new
Today confirmed the announcement that the Government will build 9 new prisons, 5 in this Parliament and 4 shortly after; ensuring that prison supports rehabilitation more effectively. This represents £1.3 billion of capital investment over the next 5 years and will run alongside the closure of old “Victorian” prisons. However which prisons will actually close is largely unknown. Today it was announced that the women’s prison HMP Holloway is due to close as early as the summer of 2016. In a press release the Secretary of State, Michael Gove, made the following statement about the closure of HMP Holloway:
“For women offenders in London, we are now in a position to hold them on remand in the more modern facilities at HMP Bronzefield. We will also re-open newly refurbished facilities at HMP Downview as a women’s prison later next year. This will allow sentenced women to be held in an environment that is more appropriate for many of those currently sent to Holloway. Both provide a better setting for children visiting their mothers. Both are well located with good transport links to London”
The ultimate plan is to reduce the running costs of prisons by £80 million a year by 2020 – this will depend on whether all the proposed reforms to the prison estate can be made in that timescale (and within budget!).
We welcome the closure of prisons that have been deemed unfit for purpose. However, this needs to be done alongside a clear strategy for reducing the number of people in prison. In Clinks’ submission to the spending review, we advised the Government that there is a need to consider how best to reduce demand for prison places in order to drive down costs through early intervention and alternatives to custody. Over the coming months, we will be watching with interest to see if this will indeed see a reduction in prison numbers.
With the announcement that HMP Holloway might be the first prison closure, Clinks is keen to see the emergence of greater use of alternatives to custody for women entering the CJS. In our response to the spending review, we highlighted that joined up approaches being led by the voluntary sector, especially women-specific organisations, could provide suitable alternatives to imprisonment for many women in contact with the CJS, who are often victims of abuse, and dealing with significant trauma.
In deciding which prisons will be closed, or where the new ones will be built, it will be crucial for the Ministry of Justice to consult with the voluntary sector and think through the impact this might have on family contact and resettlement back into communities; especially if people are held in prisons far away from their home.
Technology (focussing on courts)
We have heard a lot about the greater use of technology in the news over the last 12 months including: GPS tagging; video links; biometric scanners; iPads for ‘mobile staff’; and the list goes on. Today, the Government announced £700m of investment into new technology. These funds will be raised by selling underused courts. New investment will fund video conference centres, allowing up to 90,000 cases to be heard from prison instead of court, and will deliver more safety improvements in prisons, including body scanners and mobile phone blocking technology.
The Treasury estimates that this “more efficient configuration of the estate” (selling some underused courts) and the increased use of technology will deliver savings of approximately £200 million a year from 2019-20 onwards. It’s intended that court closures will release land for new homes.
Policing & Police and Crime Commissioners
After significant concerns that the police budgets would face dramatic cuts, the Chancellor announced that there would be no cuts to policing budgets. Instead, forces will be expected to make efficiency savings by sharing resources, a policy which has previously done the rounds. It will be interesting to see how Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) interpret this news, and how it links in with the broader devolution agenda.
It has been mentioned a few times already, in the press and elsewhere, that the Government want to extend PCC responsibilities to include fire and rescue services. So it was little surprise today to see the announcement that they will bring forward legislation to enable PCCs to take on responsibility for fire and rescue services. This will be subject to a business case being developed collaboratively between PCCs and the relevant fire service(s).
A whole system approach?
As we stated in our submission to the spending review, the CJS does not exist in isolation from other public services. It is therefore vitally important for government departments to work together to reduce offending, and reduce the number of victims. For that reason, we have summarised some of the other key announcement that we think will have an impact on people in the CJS and the organisations that support them. They are:
- Planned £4.4bn in tax credit cuts to be abandoned
- £12bn in targeted welfare savings
- Nn extra £600m earmarked for mental health services
- New social care "precept" in council tax of up to 2% to allow local councils to raise £2bn for social care – which would include social care for people leaving prison
- Councils to receive an additional £10m to help homeless people
- Local government spending, in cash terms, to be same in 2020 as 2015
- Expand support for Social Impact Bonds, investing £105 million over the Parliament to help deal with issues including homelessness, poor mental health and youth unemployment
We know that other partners will be providing a more detailed response to the issues raised above and we will update you with any new commentary below.
Many of these announcements have been mentioned in the press, so come as no great surprise. However, this is a bold statement in many regards, especially in relation to the prison estate. But what we don’t know is where these policies will lead us, and how it will affect the people going through the CJS. As is so often the case, the devil is in the detail, but we look forward to working with our members and the Ministry of Justice to consider the best way forward.
Links to some key articles
- NCVO summary
- The Guardian newspaper summary
- The BBC news summary
- The Telegraph newspaper summary
- Third Sector summary
Commentary on the announcement
“We need to bring together expertise across the whole range of problems women face, so we can meet these women where they are. Fundamentally, services need to be set up to meet the existing needs of women, women shouldn't have to fit into specific categories to access services.
“Many of Agenda's members are doing this work already, creating or running projects which help women build stable lives while also providing real value for money. Their experience shows that taking bits of money from lots of different pots to deal with each individual aspect of a woman's problem is expensive and not very effective. Funding services which look at the women's lives as a whole have more of an impact on women's lives and provide better value for money.
“So let's make sure some of this 'tampon tax' is spent on funding services dedicated to supporting the most vulnerable and excluded women in our society. And let's look at ways to make sure funding for this work is maintained when we hopefully see an end to VAT on 'feminine hygiene products'.” Click here to read the full article.
“Much of the autumn statement is to be welcomed and specifically we look forward to continuing to work with Government on the implementation of targeted interventions for homeless people.
“I would, however, urge the Chancellor to look carefully at some of the housing reforms. We welcome increased housing supply but this must include an adequate supply of rented accommodation that is actually within the means of all people. Under the current definition of ‘affordable’, these new homes will remain out of reach for those in greatest need.
“It is also important to ensure that changes are not at the expense of ensuring that those who are most vulnerable are properly and stably housed. The Chancellor must ensure that the proposed Housing Benefit caps do not leave the vulnerable at greater risk of homelessness.” Click here to read the full statement.
Local Government Association (LGA)
"The LGA has long called for further flexibility in the setting of council tax and it is right that Greg Clark and Greg Hands have listened to the concerns set out by local government. Today's announcement on council tax will go some way to allowing a number of councils to raise the money needed to offset some of the cost of social care. The £1.5 billion increase in the Better Care Fund announced today is good news, but it's vital that this is new money and must be spent on adult social care.
Today's Spending Review has handed down a difficult £4.1 billion funding cut over this Spending Review period for our residents and comes on top of almost £10 billion in further demand-led cost pressures facing councils by the end of the decade. The consequences for our local communities who will suffer as a result should not be underestimated.
It is wrong that the services our local communities rely on will face deeper cuts than the rest of the public sector yet again and for local taxpayers to be left to pick up the bill for new government policies without any additional funding." Click here to read the full statement.
Mind (as part of the Mental Health Alliance)
“The Chancellor’s decision to highlight mental health in the Spending Review today is welcome. While the announcement of additional funding for mental health services is a good start, it is vital that we see more investment in mental health from NHS England going forward if we are to achieve the turnaround we so desperately need. We hope that NHS England will follow the Chancellor’s lead in responding to the recommendations of the Mental Health Taskforce early next year, to ensure that the funding translates to real change and focused investment on the ground.
“There are, however, sizeable question marks around many of the wider issues facing people with mental health problems. We are particularly concerned about potential cuts to public health budgets in this parliament and continued pressures on social care and housing, which all have the potential to have a major impact on people with mental health problems and their families. We are simply not investing enough in preventing mental health problems in the first place, leaving people to become more unwell and in need of more long-term and costly treatment.” Click here to read the full statement.
Making Every Adult Matter (MEAM)
“Introducing today’s Spending Review announcement, the Chancellor committed to “providing more support for those who are most vulnerable and in need of our help”.
“People with multiple needs clearly meet this definition, due to their overlapping experiences of homelessness, substance misuse, contact with the criminal justice system and mental ill health.
“As both we and others have argued over the last year, to have the greatest impact on these individuals, the government needs to have a clear and strategic focus on multiple needs.
“The Chancellor missed a key opportunity to enable this today through the Spending Review process. However, some of the measures introduced today are welcome, and we remain confident that there is interest across government in how to better coordinate services.” Click here to read the full statement.
Revolving Doors Agency
“We support the government’s focus on devolution as an opportunity to redesign services and coordinate support more effectively for vulnerable groups. However, further cuts to social care and the public health grant will raise challenges for local areas seeking to invest in more preventative approaches. In addition, despite a strong case for a national programme, the government appear to have missed this opportunity to invest in better coordinated support for those facing the most complex needs. We urge the government to consider how they might support local areas on this agenda, and ensure multiple needs is considered as part of local devolution deals.” Click here to read the full statement.
“Make no mistake – today’s Comprehensive Spending Review was, overall, good news for housing. We’ve been calling on the Chancellor to do much, much more to increase house building ever since the 60% cut to the budget in 2010. You can do so too, here. Today, that cut was finally reversed as the budget for the three years 2018-2021 was roughly doubled.
“This is welcome – given some pretty toe-curling rumours going around in the run up to today’s announcement: that the entire house building budget would be scrapped, that housing associations would be privatised, that existing social homes would all be sold off or given away. Happily, none of these have happened. Instead we’re promised a significant increase in government investment in new homes – which will finally be treated as part of the nation’s vital infrastructure.” Click here to read the full statement.
St Mungo's Broadway
"We welcome the news that funding for targeted local homelessness interventions has been protected. As homelessness and rough sleeping continue to rise, the vital prevention work undertaken and funded by local authorities is more important than ever, including outreach teams which help people off the streets.
"We also welcome the Chancellor's commitment to invest in social impact bond programmes to tackle homelessness. These programmes need to enable long-term support to address health, housing and skills issues, and homeless people themselves should be involved in the design. We can offer learning fromStreet Impact, the St Mungo's Broadway service funded by a social impact bond to help people sleeping rough in London.” Click here to read the full statement.
“The extra investment in the NHS and recognition of further funding needed for mental health is welcome, but health outcomes will be undermined if investment in social care and public health is inadequate.
Local authority leaders are saying enough is enough in regards to challenges they're facing and people with social care needs are starting to see a reduction in services which contradict the government's prevention agenda. Cuts to social care do not save money anywhere in the system and in fact, cause the NHS to spend more. We will now have to see if local areas are willing to increase council tax to fund future social care services.
Add to this increasing pressure, the continued £12bn cuts to the welfare budget, and once again we risk embedding an underclass in society that face an uncertain future.” Click here to read the full statement.
Headlines from the health and care figures
A few key figures from the Department of Health settlement as well:
- £10bn increase in NHS funding by 2020-21, with most of that coming in the next year - combined with a requirement for £22bn 'efficiency savings' from the NHS, to meet the £30bn funding gap estimated by the NHS Five Year Forward View strategy document earlier in the year
- But 25% cut in the Department of Health's Whitehall (admin) budget • £600m specifically allocated for mental health services. The Mental Health Taskforce report in early 2016 should have a significant impact on how that money is spent. Clinks and other voluntary sector partners have submitted evidence to the Taskforce on the needs of people in the Criminal Justice System, and of those with multiple needs; and we'll continue to highlight these issues where we can
- No announcement yet on the roll-out of liaison & diversion services across the country; a full business case for this was submitted to the Treasury as part of the spending review, so the decision will form part of the further detail/clarification - expect to hear something in early January
- As mentioned above, local authorities are being given the option to increase council tax spending by up to 2% to help fund adult social care (in recognition that they won’t be able to meet demand without extra funding) – but areas with the greatest need may well be those which can raise the least through council tax, so this runs the risk of deepening health inequalities
- There's a continued focus on integrating health & social care, including through the Better Care Fund (pooled NHS and local authority budgets)
- Local authority public health budgets will continue to be ring-fenced for the next 2 years, but will be subject to 'continued savings' which as several of the commentators above point out could lead to the loss of much valuable preventative work
- Creation of a new ‘Joint health and work unit’, including an innovation fund to pilot programmes joining up health/employment systems – may be of interest to some of our members
- Also of possible interest to some of our members: “£15 million a year raised from the Tampon Tax [will be used] to fund women’s health and support charities. The first £5 million will be distributed between the Eve Appeal, SafeLives and Women’s Aid, and The Haven – and I invite bids from other such good causes.” Look forward to George Osborne being inundated with bids from all our wonderful women's centres!
Latest on Twitter
It is imperative that government prioritises and resources the tackling of race inequality in the criminal justice system. It is crucial that voluntary orgs led by and focussed on racially minoritised people are listened to, taken seriously and consulted in these conversations. https://twitter.com/HMIProbation/status/1451073306791223296