Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Cuts, cuts, cuts

Cornwall Council is talking about nothing but cuts at the moment. The rhetoric coming from the 4th floor at County Hall is that we will have to make £110 million of cuts over the next four years.

The last message to members from Leader Alec Robertson is that they have identified £100 million of cuts which, they claim, will not have an adverse impact on front-line services. It is only the last £10 million which will affect John and Jane Taxpayer. And so the Leader is inviting ideas from councillors across the spectrum for how to save that final £10 million.

The Council is also planning to hold four public consultation events across Cornwall next week to ask the public for their ideas. These events will be in Penzance, Saltash, St Austell and Bude. I hope that members of the public go along to them but I fear that, unless the publicity machine goes into overdrive, few people will actually know they are going on until the last minute.

The Bude event (the closest to Launceston) will be taking place from 6pm-7pm on Friday 15th October at the Parkhouse Centre. If any Launceston resident wants to attend but cannot get there, please give me a call or drop me an email (details in the 'About Me' section the right).

I do think it is interesting that the Council claims to have found £100 million of cuts already and that these will not affect frontline services. If this is true then I congratulate them. We will have to wait until the Cabinet Meeting on 27th October for any details, however, as the planned discussion on 13th October has been postponed.

1 comment:

John said...

It will be interesting to see whether any of the identified ways of saving money involve moving towards the Suffolk model of an "enabling" or "commissioning" council i.e outsourcing/ privatisation of services and, if so, how this will save money and what consultation there will be on this. It will also be interesting to know what impact the administration think the proposed cuts will have on the Council's performance.

I see from the West Briton that the Council have a report from PriceWaterHouseCoopers showing the Council is performing favourably in comparison to other unitary Councils. Chris Ridgers a Conservative Councillor and member of the Audit Committee and Performance Management Panel blogged about this on the 16 September under the heading "Cornwall Council Good Progress" using the PwC benchmarking report as evidence the Council is performing well. Here is a comment I posted on his website on subject on 28 September:

"On the face of it the PwC benchmarking report is good news. I do not understand though how this squares with the Interim Governance report from the Audit Commission presented to your Audit Committee yesterday. The findings on Value for Money were that the Council failed to achieve minimum standards for 4 out of 9 value for money criteria. The other counties that went unitary in 2009, Shropshire, Wiltshire, Northumberland and Durham all met the full 9 minimum standards (and incidentally all will manage to meet the 30 September deadline for approval of audited accounts).

On the Value for Money KLOE "Use of Information" the Audit Commission said: "The Council’s data quality arrangements were weak during 2009/10 and performance management and reporting systems were not fully in place across the whole of the organisation".

What reliance can therefore be placed on the data given to PwC when it conducted its benchmarking exercise? If the data is not reliable are PwC's comparisons accurate? "

Hopefully the accuracy of identifying the £100 million savings is better than the accuracy of the Council's 2009/10 draft accounts which the Audit Commission were unable to audit by the 30 September 2010 deadline because of amongst other things " a significant number of errors and ommissions in the Council's financial statements".