Just over 3 years ago, when the Council presented the budget for 2013/14 – it told the people of Derby it needed to save £62m over the following 3 years. At that time the total funding from all sources was £228m – 3 years later, the total funding is still £228m (2015/16) How has this happened given the massive Tory Government cuts? Answer – Other Government grants including the Business rates retention scheme – the Council has only publicised part of the story.
A reasonable person might think that, if £62m needed to saved over 3 years, that the funding would be cut by around £62m in that period, and that the total would be about £150m now – that is simply not the case ( see chart). It is true to say that in 3 years there has been inflation, additional cost burdens on the Council, and no doubt reductions as well but not to the extent of £62m.
The way it is presented is that the Government has cut funding by £62m. This is clearly not the position. One might argue that the funding has not increased in step with inflation, or other pressures – but that case has never been presented by the Council. The level of detail necessary to present that, may open up other dark corners that they might not wish the public to see…and it might actually show that the Tory Govt has not been the source of all of this City’s woes!
Let’s assume that 3 years ago, there was an expectation that the Council was on the edge of a precipice, and staring at the need to save £62m. What do you do? Have a policy of chipping away at many small items of expenditure, seemingly randomly for 3 years, or launch a “Big Conversation” and ask the public their views using limited information, or recognise that the Council needs to transform itself, and fundamentally change the way it delivers the services so that waste ( an organisation costing £600m has waste – this is a certainty) can be removed.
In my article in July 2015 “Derby City Council’s “Big Conversation” is a charade and limp party politicking” – I suggested that the Council needed “transformational thinking” not this Tory-style of hacking away at the cost base with little vision of the future.
So after 3 years, the Council is finally putting forward a proposal at the next Cabinet meeting (13th April 2016) under the banner of “Delivering Differently”. Despite 3 years of having to deliver tens of millions of pounds worth of savings, they’ve now decided that this should be viewed much more strategically, and a formal programme launched to deliver this. The idea is fantastic – just 3 years too late. If anything shows the people of Derby that the current team is not fit for leadership – it is this.
To cap it all, in a time when they claim there is no money for absolutely vital services they’ve identified a budget of £6m to fund this programme. I just wonder how Cllr Banwait can explain this in the context of his previous statements about no money, without contorting some logic that blames the Tory Government.
The problem is simple – too much dithering by this Council!
I’m not suggesting that a different administration will necessarily do a better job. The fact is that the current leadership have put themselves forward as competent people to run this City, and are being rewarded handsomely to do that job, so therefore they should be publicly accountable. As I’ve said before, if the job is too difficult then everyone has the option to resign.
Categories: Derby City Council