John Clark writes…
First published: September 2010
The governments Autumn Spending Review will cause cuts in frontline services. These include education, libraries, roads, social and youth services. The impact will as usual hit hardest on the elderly, the poor, the young, the ill and the unemployed – those that a civilised society should care for.
There has already been a pay freeze for 2 years, hitting lower paid council workers the hardest. The ConDem government has announced a pay freeze from 2011/12 for public sector workers except for those earning £21,000 or less. What is needed is a reduction in the gap between the higher wages and the lower paid. This could be done by reducing the top pay and removing at least one layer of senior management. After all, ‘we are all in it together’. On Ryedale District Council, removing one layer of senior management would save £400,000 per year.
The same principle should apply to North Yorkshire County Council. 10 officers are paid over £100,000 and over 80 are paid between £50 and £100,000. A 10% reduction in their pay would save over £1million every year. One of the North Yorkshire County Council suggestions to save money is to cut the number of county council committees and therefore the cost of allowances to councillors. This is very questionable. Councillors should be more involved not less. Some of us don’t claim our mileage allowance. A better saving would be to reduce the amount paid per mile. As far as I am aware there has been no debate on ‘cuts’. There has been no council debate for those opposed to the increases in school dinner price, the stopping of music buses or the cuts in bus services. Councillors should be the voice for those who are suffering the effects of the cuts. Councillors should be involved in the discussion before a consultation, not just ‘allowed to challenge’ after the decisions have been made.
Councils run vast publicity machines raving about their service winning a competition. How does this do any good? Those that win are already motivated. They are motivated by giving a good service. The people who use their service know it is good and so don’t benefit from being told it’s good. Others who are miles away ‘don’t care’ if the provision is brilliant or not. There is a danger that councils will be spending money on proudly announcing they are doing even less rather well. It would be better to put the money into ‘doing’ rather than ‘announcing’.
One candidate that should be cut is the ny times at £450,000 per year. In August the front page headline is ‘Spending Challenge’, in September ‘Spending under the microscope’. Much of the wording is the same in both. What a repetitive waste of typing and money. The money spent on this propaganda sheet should be used to reduce the impact on frontline services. They suggest ‘a review of the format, frequency and delivery’. No, it should be axed.