Wednesday, 2 June 2010

The elephant in the room

I read this with some horror. It's by Tracie Evans, director of finance and commercial services at Barking and Dagenham... you know, the London borough that would have fallen into the hands of the BNP last month if it hadn't been for half the London labour movement turning out week after week to campaign against them - where are the thanks?

Anyway, as well as revealing that on her bank holidays she sips sparkling mineral water and covers up with sunscreen (so responsible), Tracie says:

...the Government will give us an in-year savings target and we will make them from wherever we can, although clearly, frontline services are also out of scope for savings.

So, where does that leave us? Up the Swanny without a...

Well it’s obvious, we can make even more back-office efficiencies on top of the ones we have already been making over the past few years. But seriously, how are we going to find an unplanned few million pounds. Perhaps it really is time to flush out all of those issues that have given local government its bad name in the past.

I would like to start to tackle the really big elephant in the room – staff terms and conditions. Government is consistently lambasted by the public for the generous conditions it allows its staff at the expense of the taxpayer – regardless, actually, of whether our overall conditions are, in fact, still that generous. Are we really ready to start increasing working weeks, reducing allowances, decreasing leave entitlements and probably the most contentious, abolishing free staff car parking.
Very droll. The last bit, not what went before.

It is in our interest to ensure that as little money is spent on back-office functions and as much money as possible is spent on service delivery. It is time to tackle the really hard stuff. Onwards and upwards – any other boroughs fancy a merger?
The elephant in the room, my arse. A herd of elephants is roaming around Westminster, tearing up trees and crapping all over College Green. Has been since the general election.

Why do public services have to pay the price of the bank bailout and all the crap that went before that? That's the real elephant. I remember how hard they pushed credit at us - "Why wait? Have it now!" - and that was just the advice of my bank to its high street customers. Never mind the rest of the rubbish that went on.

Now they are building up their reserves again, preparing to pay dividends to shareholders, and paying top bankers big bonuses.

But John Burgess, secretary of Barnet Unison branch, describes the scandal rather better than I can do in my current, rather ranty mood.

£1.3 Trillion (1,300,000,000,000,000) public money given to the banks.

£153 Billion (153,000,000,000) the Public Sector deficit that is driving the Con-Dem Governments Cuts Agenda

If I didn’t know better I sometimes feel the politicians almost relish the massive cuts packages they have been promoting for almost a year! Now is not the time to panic, and scaring citizens that we could be worse than Greece is just the act of a bully hoping that when they announce the cuts we will all roll over and accept anything they propose.

We must not roll over. When I return from UNISON Conference I hope to report that our newly elected General Secretary will have provided a plan for how we are to defend public services and jobs.

...I don’t know if it is just me but I am getting increasingly irritated by politicians talking about cuts in the public sector. What annoys me the most is how they talk about cuts to jobs and job creation in the same sentence! Just how does making 300,000 jobs redundant create jobs?

...I know what I don’t want to hear, I don’t want to hear politicians trotting out glib sound bites like “more for less!” Where does this myth that council workers have been having it easy all these years come from? We may have the easyCouncil tag but working in Barnet is not easy - it is hard work. Everywhere I go to meet members I hear the same message: ‘over worked, not enough time in the day to do the work.’


Longtimereaderfirsttimecommenter said...

I'm intrigued what your alternative to cutting public spending is.

Our country could default, but that mean no-one would lend us money, meaning more significant cuts would have to be made immediately.

We could print money and cause hyper inflation, but this would mean misery for working people and Germany in the 1920s is about as bad an example for this as you can get.

Or we could just keep on borrowing - but this of course has its limits as Spain and Greece have shown. Eventually markets and/or other states make lending so expensive it becomes unsustainable.

Is there an alternative?

Our ServicesOur moneyNot ConGov's said...

I was not aware aware that Spanish banks were being bailed out by the dozen as in Britain. Spain like our country is not quite Greece.

Spain is doing what Canada did 15 years ago and I note Spanish Banks seem to own several British banks and never lent somebody else's money willy nilly.

Targetting the public sector for cuts will definitely not be delivering essential frontline services. In Barnet it means savings to:

I need some of those services and equipment to wipe my arse and dress me, I don't receive them because I don't have enough cash to pay for it and, there is not enough people to deliver them to me. The lady is correct, time to stop the soundbites and support the Trades Unions.

As to banks I'm waiting for my tax-payers share certificate so that I can access those EasyRyan services from overseas contractors

Anonymous said...
Three new assistant director posts created by Barnet Council