The Derby Labour Party rhetoric is that, Council funding has been cut, for the last 6 years, since the Conservative Party came to power in 2010, leading to a reduction in services. This aspect of the equation is simply not true.
When I have written about this before, a number of people who commented, felt that this was totally flawed, almost amounting to propaganda. To check my understanding , I had a meeting with Paul Robinson (Chief Exec – Derby City Council) and Martyn Marples (Chief Finance Officer – Derby City Council) this week – they confirmed the basic statement that funding over this period has been essentially flat ( see chart below)
The element of the funding which is exploited, politically, is the Revenue Support Grant ( red section of the bar on the chart below). This is one of the grant sources from Central Government, it has reduced since 2013/14 ( when it was introduced). At that time it was just 28% of the total funding – the other 72% came from Council Tax, Business Rates, and other specific grants. It is now 15% of the total.
For comparison, in the period, 2013/14 – 2017/18 – Nottingham City Council’s total funding reduced by £63m, to £238m , and Leicester City Council by £57m to £256m – definitely not flat!
In 2016/17 – DCC funding equates to £880 / head of population ; Nottingham £756/head and Leicester £796/head.
Any Council ( and any large organisation) will be fundamentally inefficient which leaves plenty of scope for saving money without impacting on any front-line services. Despite all of these efforts, and they are never-ending, there will be inflationary pressures on the budget, as well as increased demands due to more older people, new legislation etc. Where this becomes a problem with “flat” funding is a moot point, and open to speculation.
Some spending requirements are set by legislation, some are based on local priorities, and political objectives. The ruling Labour Council never entertain a discussion about those decisions that they, as a political group, have taken, which impact on the people of Derby where an alternative, more favourable outcome could have been delivered. They take no accountability for that action, once again, simply blaming the Government – that is where it is disingenuous. That is what needs to be made more transparent through the “rhetoric fog”.
There is a longer term debate over the funding of local authorities. However as this is ideological, and unlikely to change before the next election in 2020 the local task is to manage within the constraints that have been set….and in the best interests of the people of Derby.
As I’ve said many times before, if you cannot stand up and be accountable for the decisions that you’ve taken then you should not be in a position of leadership….no matter how hard, and unfair it might seem.
I hope to be able to write an article, soon,which explains about the financial pressures that the Council has from changing demographics, and increased legislation.