Saturday 6 November 2010

Efficiency Measures vs Cuts

Whilst I absolutely believe the coalition are headed in the right direction when it comes to getting Britain's economy back on track, I have one frustration - that is the obsession with talking about efficiency measures.  It is frustrating for people, like me, who are having to deal with the implications of cuts in funding to local Government which have by the way, been significantly front loaded so we cannot spread the pain over 4 years as much as some would have liked.

Cambridgeshire is an efficient Council.   We have our problems but, for the majority, we are well run, not overly bureaucratic and deliver good services to the people of the County.  What that means is we cannot take between 25% - 33% out of our budget just by "efficiency measures".   There are, of course, things we do that we don't have to, but all too often they are services that people like and appreciate; a great example of this is the cuts we are having to make to Youth Services.

As a Council in Cambridgeshire, we are having to go back to the things that are most important.  So, in children's services, that means prioritising support to vulnerable children and families, putting the children who most need help first, that means we have to look at every service that is not totally focussed on this. Of course we are also looking at management posts because of course we are, but we cannot take out the huge sums of money that are needed without cuts in services.  I just wish Government would recognise this and not play about with the language, it may be easier for them to use that sort of phrase, but in reality it is a bit confusing when people experience the inevitability of what is happening in local Government.

I recognise that the Coalition inherited a financial mess from New Labour; a combination of a budget out of control and levels of borrowing that were totally unsustainable, and I know both myself and my colleagues are all too aware that Cambridgeshire has to play its part and take some of the pain - but let's just call them cuts and not beat around the bush.

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