7 days to go

Yes, 7 days to go until the Government releases it dreaded Spending Review. Cornwall Council is in-line for some really serious cuts in grant funding from the Government. This could total 30% with a third of that having to be made in the first year (2011-12). The remainder of it spread out over the following three years. This is a huge amount that the Council has to deal with. You could say that the Council could just raise Council Tax to cover it, but the Government is most likely to ‘cap’ this at no more than a 2.5% rise.

I am told that a lot of saving have already been made, but a further £20 million has to be made. £10 million has already been identified in ‘re-organising’ working practices, staffing levels and better use of buildings, but that still leaves a further £10 million to be found. This is where Council services are under pressure. What ones could be cut or scaled down, and what ones cannot.

This was the point of a briefing I attended along with many other Councillors. The level of detail was very good. It listed many areas that could face cuts. No definite list, but a shopping list that Councillors could decide as long as it added up to the £10 million. I really can’t say what was on those lists because it was marked Confidential and therefore I am bound by the Code of Conduct. In fact those present were not allowed to keep the documents just in case they got mislaid and ended up in other hands.

Unlike previous Budgets I had little, if any say in how it was done apart from a yes or no once it was presented to full Council. Those on a Scrutiny Committee did have a chance to vote and change certain elements, but not everyone who is a Member of Cornwall Council can be on one of these Panels.  So I welcome this chance to really discuss this before hand and my thanks go to those who organised it.

I for one will find it a little harder to sleep tonight knowing what Cornwall Council faces in the coming months.

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