On Council cuts

When this government took office public spending was running at four pounds for every three being raised in taxes.

That situation was unsustainable and could not be allowed to continue, but nor can that large a shortfall be corrected without a great deal of pain. Pain which is primarily the responsibility of the Labour government who presided over the situation when the deficit went through the ceiling, rather than that of the people who are trying to clear up the mess.

However, those councils which are making cuts in front-line services while continuing to employ people in ridiculous jobs, or spend too much on administration, also have something to answer for.

Here is an extract from an item on the subject from yesterday's Sunday Times:

"Councils are set to pay out £1.5 billion in golden handshakes to departing staff, with some employees getting double their salaries.

Town hall leaders are protesting that the scale of the government’s spending cuts has left them with no alternative but to slash funding for charities and frontline services.

The Sunday Times can reveal local authorities have offered staff lucrative pay-off settlements to bring down numbers, after allowing employment costs to rocket.

A report to be published tomorrow by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development says that on average pay-offs in the public sector are almost four times those paid in the private sector.

Councils may be having their funding cut back to 2006 levels, but in the intervening years officers’ salaries have ballooned. Birmingham Council — which last week announced 7,300 job losses — trebled the number of staff earning more than £80,000 a year.

Liverpool City Council, which pulled out of David Cameron’s big society after saying it could no longer afford to back the scheme, has paid six-figure payouts to nine employees.

At Manchester City Council, which is closing leisure centres, libraries and all but one public toilet, staff are being offered three times the statutory redundancy and up to 18 months of their salary. The council is now looking to cut 41% of its management posts paying above £42,000, but has doubled the number on more than £100,000 in the past five years.

Overall the total wage bill at councils has risen from £62 billion to £76 billion since 2005, 8% above the rate of inflation.


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