The Tory 0% Budget Amendment that does not add up
I blogged about the battle of the 0% budgets and how the two largest political parties at Cornwall Council are trying to out do each other on producing the best headline grabbing Budget. Now the details have been released on both and reading them makes my blood boil. However, it is the chief financial officers professional view which has to be read.
The chief finance officer, is also known in local government circles as the S151 officer. They have given their professional view on the Tory (group – though I should say element of it) Budget amendment, which is different to the Tory-lead Cabinet Budget. The amendment proposals are by the former Cabinet Member for Finance, Fiona Ferguson and Scott Mann.
If this amendment is implemented by means of a majority vote the actual outcome will lead to job loses, but worse, the actual services the council provides will be reduced, or stopped completely. You cannot help but think (and I would agree) this amendment to the Budget is nothing more than electioneering of the worst kind. It seems they are more interested in having a good headline on an election leaflet, than actually looking after Cornwall and its people.
The details to the Tory amendment is HERE. However, it is the S151 response to the amendment that is so damaging. More so, as the S151 position is politically restricted so the advice given would be neutral. I have worked with this officer at length and can say they put the council’s well-being and services provided first.
This is the S151 response to the amendment. However, the most damaging blow to this amendment is the first sentence:
“this proposal does not satisfy for an essential amendment to the budget in that it fails to deliver a medium term sustainable budget strategy”
The rest of the S151 officers view is as follows:
Everyone wants low Council Tax bills and good services. And in an ideal world, the council should be able to set a 0% budget. But it is not an ideal world, the financial pressures are massive, which have been made worse by the very party in Government this amendment comes from. Even worse, MPs are putting pressure on people to have a 0% budget, so they and their party look good too. I say to them, concentrate on your own house, before you tell Cornwall Council what to do.
For me, I do not mind paying an extra £25 or so per year because services will be protected if an increase of 1.97% is implemented. We have had two-years of no increase. So it has not all been doom and gloom.
The very same party behind this amendment has made the poorest (with little sympathy) and most in need pay 25% or over £300 extra per year. But seem happy to push for a 0% increase even though it will make services worse.
Tomorrow, the details and views on the other 0% amendment. It is only slightly better than this Tory amendment.