Archive for October 20, 2010

I don’t know what to say

October 20, 2010

The first cut isn't the deepest!

A lot of ink will be spilled commenting on today’s CSR; some will be deeply informed commentary and some will be scare mongering rubbish.

To be honest at times like these there isn’t much new to add so I won’t write an essay:

Here are three things that spring to mind:

1) George Osborne talked of protecting crucial front-line services and yet there is a 25% cut for local government; which bit of local government does he actually think is not a front line service

2) The cuts for Local Government are spread with a saving of 7.1% per year for the next four years. My fear is two fold…

a) Firstly, that this will encourage local authorities to take the ‘easy’ option and look for salami slicing of their services each year. This will mean bad decisions get made and the wrong posts get deleted in order to minimise disruption. The same applies to Osborne’s commitment to lose the jobs through natural wastage. Instead of making rational decisions about our future needs we’ll just be winging it and hoping the right people leave or retire. I fear it might lead to badly managed services when what we need in a time of austerity is better managed services.

b) Secondly, the cuts hanging over us will not provide an improved service or lead to better decision making. Instead, the horror of what we have gone through this year will be repeated again and again.

3) Despite all this, and the questions it raises we are no closed to knowing totally what will happen to the council. As my Chief Exec pointed out:

These reductions are in line with what we had expected and have been planning for, but it is now up to the DCLG to decide how best to manage and distribute this spending within their areas of responsibility. At a local level it will be some time before we can identify exactly what this will mean for xxxxx’s budgets and more clarity will come in early December when the local government finance settlement figures are announced.

Even now, we still don’t know fully what to expect… It’s the uncertainty that is killing me…

Today is the Day

October 20, 2010

In happier times?

I woke up this morning feeling like I did many years ago on exam day; I assumed that the feelings were nervousness, apprehension and fearing the worst.

Working out these mixed emotions is tough.

In my heart of hearts I know that despite what George Osborne says today, many of the changes that are being planned for my local authority are already in train and won’t be revoked. I also know that even if the cuts he announces are huge it won’t necessarily mean I’ll lose my job or the services I help provide will be cut. Those are rightly decisions for local leaders.

Despite knowing these things I can’t help but feel that today is probably the most significant day for local government for possibly twenty years.

There will be massive changes in the coming years. Some changes have already begun but only in a small way; today will be the starting gun for what is to come; after all there is nothing like the cold hard reality of losing cash to focus the mind.

All of this leads me to question my analogy – I was right in one way; yes, it is like the morning of an exam.

But the feelings are not just nervousness and apprehension but actually excitement and anticipation. The world of local government is about to change and I for one want to make sure I’m part of making the best out of, whatever that change might be.

I, and my fellow bloggers, will doubtless consider the impact of the cuts later and the catastrophic effect they will have on the public services we provide and my job but for now the anticipation is flowing through my veins so all I can say is this:

George; bring it on!