Some councils lead the way

November 08, 2010 9:05 AM

A couple of weeks ago I blogged on how Councils can still deliver front line services and absorb necessary spending cuts. Last week, some local authorities made announcements about savings they have either already implemented or have in the pipeline.


Bexley Council announced details of how it plans to make savings of £36million over the next 3 years. Their main priority is the protection of key services like the collection of rubbish and repairing roads – so they have identified many other areas where savings can be made. They have outlined plans to cut 20 per cent off the wages of the senior management team, withdraw provision for private health care for senior staff, and seriously reduce the car mileage scheme. Additionally they have identified savings by freezing councillor’s allowances until 2014 and scrapped their annual black tie civil reception.


Bexley have also announced plans to centrally manage procurement to deliver maximum value and drive down costs – echoing the proposals made by Sir Philip Green a couple of weeks ago.


Some sensible moves. Seriously cutting back office functions and identifying areas of waste while still being able to deliver essential public services is what all local authorities should be looking to do.


Amongst all that, a question lurks: why do some councils provide senior staff with private healthcare? Not only are taxpayers paying for the NHS through their taxes, but they are also footing the bill for the private healthcare of some council employees. This is an outrage – if employees want to fund private access to healthcare themselves then fine. Our Town Hall Rich List suggests that many of them are more than capable of doing just that.


Leicestershire County and Nottingham City councils have also announced plans to cut costs. They have identified £2million of savings by pooling their administrative functions, human resources, payroll and finance services. This is only an initial step for these two councils – they have not drawn the line there, and have kept the door open to merging other services in the future. This is similar to the plans by Hammersmith and Fulham, Westminster and Kensington and Chelsea Councils to pool certain office functions and resources.


Articles like the one in the Observer yesterday about the impact of the Comprehensive Spending Review on local areas make for frustrating reading. The article, commenting on a leaked document  from one London Authoruity claims that areas would "visibly decline" and the "deterioration of estates would lead to antisocial behaviour" and "reduction in overall standards of cleanliness for litter, detritus and fly-tipping."


A source in the Department for Communities and Local Government dismissed such claims and echoed my sentiments: councils should not even think of touching frontline services until they had driven down costs in back offices, cut the pay of their chief executives and stamped out all "crazy non-jobs" such as development officers.


It’s great to see councils starting to take such innovative steps to reducing their spending and increasing efficiencies. There is a lot of low-hanging fruit to pick before councils even begin to talk about the threats to frontline services or council tax hikes.

A couple of weeks ago I blogged on how Councils can still deliver front line services and absorb necessary spending cuts. Last week, some local authorities made announcements about savings they have either already implemented or have in the pipeline.


Bexley Council announced details of how it plans to make savings of £36million over the next 3 years. Their main priority is the protection of key services like the collection of rubbish and repairing roads – so they have identified many other areas where savings can be made. They have outlined plans to cut 20 per cent off the wages of the senior management team, withdraw provision for private health care for senior staff, and seriously reduce the car mileage scheme. Additionally they have identified savings by freezing councillor’s allowances until 2014 and scrapped their annual black tie civil reception.


Bexley have also announced plans to centrally manage procurement to deliver maximum value and drive down costs – echoing the proposals made by Sir Philip Green a couple of weeks ago.


Some sensible moves. Seriously cutting back office functions and identifying areas of waste while still being able to deliver essential public services is what all local authorities should be looking to do.


Amongst all that, a question lurks: why do some councils provide senior staff with private healthcare? Not only are taxpayers paying for the NHS through their taxes, but they are also footing the bill for the private healthcare of some council employees. This is an outrage – if employees want to fund private access to healthcare themselves then fine. Our Town Hall Rich List suggests that many of them are more than capable of doing just that.


Leicestershire County and Nottingham City councils have also announced plans to cut costs. They have identified £2million of savings by pooling their administrative functions, human resources, payroll and finance services. This is only an initial step for these two councils – they have not drawn the line there, and have kept the door open to merging other services in the future. This is similar to the plans by Hammersmith and Fulham, Westminster and Kensington and Chelsea Councils to pool certain office functions and resources.


Articles like the one in the Observer yesterday about the impact of the Comprehensive Spending Review on local areas make for frustrating reading. The article, commenting on a leaked document  from one London Authoruity claims that areas would "visibly decline" and the "deterioration of estates would lead to antisocial behaviour" and "reduction in overall standards of cleanliness for litter, detritus and fly-tipping."


A source in the Department for Communities and Local Government dismissed such claims and echoed my sentiments: councils should not even think of touching frontline services until they had driven down costs in back offices, cut the pay of their chief executives and stamped out all "crazy non-jobs" such as development officers.


It’s great to see councils starting to take such innovative steps to reducing their spending and increasing efficiencies. There is a lot of low-hanging fruit to pick before councils even begin to talk about the threats to frontline services or council tax hikes.

Latest Blogs:

TaxPayers' Alliance Icon

Aid spending needs to be more transparent

4:55 PM 08, Dec 2016 Harry Fairhead

TaxPayers' Alliance Icon

The sugar tax and the public finances

6:00 AM 05, Dec 2016 Harry Fairhead

TaxPayers' Alliance Icon

Working for the taxman

6:00 AM 26, Nov 2016 Harry Fairhead

TaxPayers' Alliance Icon

Further thoughts on the Autumn Statement

4:56 PM 24, Nov 2016 James Price