Councils to learn extent of spending cuts today

Long-awaited Localism Bill could spell out deepest cuts to council budgets since 1945.

Local councils across the UK are set to discover see the extent to which their funding is cut, as the delayed Localism Bill is released.

Large spending cuts for local councils are widely anticipated. Ministers claim that the proposed changes will empower local communities by decentralising decision making.They claim that the Localism Bill is fundamental to creating the "big society".

Tony Travers of the London School of Economics told the BBC that these cuts would be the deepest to council budgets since 1945. He predicts a 15 per cent decrease in local government expenditure in real terms, which could translate into the loss of 140,000 jobs.

However, this was contested by Eric Pickles, the Communities Secretary, who told BBC Radio 4's Today show; "I'm expecting local authorities to be able to provide more for less, I'm expecting them to be able to provide a reasonable level of service."

He added: "I believe it is possible to cut significant sums out of local authorities by simply improving the way local authorities operate. They've simply got to wake up to the fact that it is no longer viable to have their own chief executives, their own legal departments, their own education departments, their own planning departments -- they've simply got to put this together and they've got to look for ways to see these services provided in partnership with local communities."

Despite Eric Pickles' enthusiasm, a Guardian poll found that an overwhelming majority of 84.2 per cent of people thought that the Localism Bill would just be confusing jargon, while just 15.7 per cent thought it would successfully define community.