New tradition of cuts and savings

Bill Parker, Jim Harker and Paul Blantern announce cuts of �128m to the county council budget over the next five years
Bill Parker, Jim Harker and Paul Blantern announce cuts of �128m to the county council budget over the next five years

It is the time of year for traditions such as buying the Christmas tree, decorating the house and planning your festive fun.

But it is also now traditionally the time when councils across the county go public with plans to make cuts, or what can be euphemistically called savings, in the following 12 months.

There is no longer any surprise when a county or district council reveals it has to save millions of pounds by cutting services or making people redundant.

In fact, it would make a pleasant change for a council not to be revealing plans to make cuts to balance the books.

But let’s be clear, this constant eroding of traditional services has not started overnight and will not end any time soon.

The way local government works is changing beyond all recognition.

The amount of money provided by the governments of the day cannot pay for the services traditionally offered by councils.

In the past local authorities could paper over the cracks by making substantial increases to council tax bills.

That is no longer permitted by Government, or desired by many who came to power on the back of promises not to increase such bills.

So, as more councils become “enablers” and contract out services to third parties, what should local government look like in the future?

It is a question that has taxed finer brains than mine, but is one that must be answered, because soon there will not be much more to cut.

Neil Pickford, Editor

@NeilPickfordNT