Cllr Banwait tells us that the Council’s finances have been destroyed by the Tory Government and that the 100% cuts to the Voluntary Sector Grants, Citizen’s Advice Bureau (CAB), as well as the cancellation of many other popular services and entertainment events, have been driven by draconian central government policies. As Cllr Banwait is a politician, there is a hint of truth, tainted by the facts he doesn’t tell us.
It is true to say that the central government grant has reduced by £10m in a budget of £219m (4.5%). Due to other funding improvements the net effect is only £3m ( a net 1.5% reduction!)- there is a lot more to Council funding than finance from the Central Government…something that Cllr Banwait never mentions.
The biggest single cost pressure on the Councils budget in 2016/17 is the impact of the ill-fated, lengthy, very expensive and controversial job evaluation process/change to Terms and Conditions. This is the decade long tragedy that has resulted in Teaching Assistants being saddled with a 25% pay cut. At the same time, the vast majority of staff have enjoyed an average 4%+ pay rise ; this is not for cost of living, or National Living Wage, but a highly flawed activity which has resulted in a on-going £4m cost to the Council set to increase by a further £1m in 2017/18, and £1m in 2018/19 – all for nothing!
This was supposed to correct only gender equality issues in the pay structure, not a wholesale pay rise for employees. The £4m would cover the Voluntary sector (VCF) and Citizen’s Advice Bureau grants 5 times over, and we are told that cutting VCF grants was the “last resort”!
The question is, why is giving every single Council employee, on average, a pay rise of 4%, remotely justifiable. Giving them a 3% pay rise would allow all Voluntary Sector grants including the Citizen’s Advice Bureau, to be funded for ever?
When the Council repeatedly spew their rhetoric about their joint hopelessness on the budget, and that there is “no where to go”….then, they ARE deceiving the residents of Derby, and being “economical with the truth”. I don’t doubt Cllr Banwait will say that the Government has told them to implement “Equal Pay” – the policy, “yes”, the actual detail and amounts “no” – I wish this Council would take some personal accountability for the actions and decisions it is taking…..we know that axing the VCF grants and CAB contract was not a “last resort”, anyone can see that!
So, will someone in the Council be open and transparent enough to answer this question….?