Sunday, 16 January 2011

Cutting the budget

Today I had a taste of what it's like to cut spending. I have been filling out the council's Budget Consultation 2011. And it's tough to make the numbers work.
The object is to save £18m. The questionnaire sets out the choices. Youth centres or call centres, disabled help or educational psychologists, street cleaning or branch libraries.
So here goes. I've opted to keep libraries open, not to cut daycare for the disabled or welfare advice or educational services for vulnerable children. I reckon filthy streets are a no-no, so street cleansing will be maintained at the current level.
Some of the cuts were easy, such as axing the webcasting of council meetings, plus cutting working hours at the town hall. And I think raising charges for parking and planning applications makes sense under the circumstances.
But then there the jobs to be cut: in education, in property management, answering phones and in so many other areas. And youth centres. I have ticked some of those to go.
The result? By saving some vital services, I have veered right off course. I've only saved £9m for the coming year, half what is required.
The only way to relieve the pressure would be to raise council tax, but that's been frozen for the year.

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