Sunday, November 29, 2015

Carry on Strictly X Factor Budget Cuts
– New Redbridge-i App where "You Choose" who suffers in the concrete Jungle

It’s that time of year again. No, not the joyous times of Christmas celebrations or even Holy Black Friday but the now annual cry of despair from our hard working Redbridge councillors having to face the realities of austerity and trying to offload the blame for the difficult decisions they have to make onto you - via a consultation that in past years has yielded a response rate of less than one quarter of a percent.

But this year they are not alone. They have the support of Lord Porter, he’s the chair of the Local Government Association. He’s also a Tory.

“Even if councils stop filling in potholes, maintaining parks, closed all children’s centres, libraries, museums, leisure centres and turned off every street light, they will not have saved enough money to plug the financial black hole they face by 2020.”

By way of a grim kind of answer, Osborne has said that he will now let councils keep 100% of the proceeds from the sale of any assets, to be used as they see fit. Ah, this coupled with the arrival of our impending new Chief Executive whose record in Brent is 'Making the most of our land and assets' might give some indication on the future of our parks, playing fields and open spaces not to mention such gems as Valentines Mansion.

This year we are faced with a further cut of £58 million over the next three years.

Well, to save you the trouble I have bash tested the process and got to the bottom line. I have ticked every money saving item to the max and every money generation item to the max to arrive at a profit of £21 million, which includes a 10% rise in council tax. This means that over two thirds of the options need to be taken. Now, apart from things like waste collection and roads most of the council services are designed specifically for children, the vulnerable, poor or those with special needs, so that’s where the cuts are coming. The complete list of the consequences is here.

We are talking about cuts to:
  • Youth centres
  • Provision for the elderly, including Freedom Passes
  • Schools
  • Children with special educational needs
  • Adults with mental health problems
  • Support for victims of domestic abuse
And things like:
  • The planning service being taken over by the planning inspectorate
  • Reduction in waste collection and street cleansing
  • Closure of libraries
  • Sale of land and assets
Or we could increase Council tax by 10% raising £10 million. That’s about £110 per year on band D. However, it seems that to do this we have to have a local referendum, which would cost around £180,000. But even £10 million is still a long way short.

There are press reports of local communities raising funds to pay to replace the local Police whose numbers are being cut. Why don’t we just pay our taxes to provide the services we want and need? On Friday UK citizens contributed in excess of £200 million in VAT to the chancellor’s war chest, on ONE day. It’s not as though we haven’t got any money.

Sooner or later a local council somewhere will be forced to call out the chancellor and have a referendum, and then we will see what kind of place people "aspire" to live in.

UPDATE: More from our Cabinet Member for Finance & Resources here.

1 comment:

  1. More from our Cabinet Member for Finance & Resources here.