Wednesday 11 November 2015

Budget time again....£18m axed from education, and Custard Creams take a hit.

The planned council budget cuts of £40m over the next three years come up for their first airing on Monday. It's early days but the Executive Board (see Appendix A) will approve a raft of proposals which will form part of the public consultation starting on the 18th November.

In a combination of administrative and service cuts, there are a lot of 'structural realignments', remodelling and 'new ways of working', which, aside from job losses, for leisure services and the bulk of social care means further outsourcing to trusts and private companies. 'Savings' of £1.4m are planned for private sector residential homes and private home care through a reduction in placements and home care packages, despite a clear and steady rise in demand.

Also, despite an increasing reliance on the 'third sector' to deliver care in the community grants to organisations such as MIND, Mencap, Llanelli Association for the blind, Shelter and Care and Repair are being cut.

Many of the planned cuts are a continuation of proposals from the last budget such as the 'deferred' increase in parking charges and of course the post-16 transport charges which is currently under a separate consultation. Highway maintenance and flood defences again take a big hit but by far the largest cuts over the next three years are to education and children's services.

The risk assessment team for children's services will be discontinued 'saving' around £80,000 and the usual increases in school dinners hope to bring in around £300,000 by 2018. The Quay centre, the base for youth services opened in 2010, looks likely to be mothballed.

However, the delegated school budget, the money the council gives to the schools, is to be cut by an astonishing £18.280m over three years;

"Education is a significant area of spend for the Council. This proposal is to reduce the total budget to schools and support schools in achieving a number of cost savings, for example, further collaboration between schools, reducing "back office" costs to prioritise classroom provision, etc."

How that vague plan will pan out without directly affecting educational standards remains to be seen.

The added complication of course, for our political parties, is the impending Assembly elections next May. The budget will eventually be passed in February, and will be fresh in the minds of voters as the campaign trail begins in earnest...

On a lighter note we see that there will be a £2000 reduction in spending on refreshments for meetings. It's always a little difficult to gauge things like this when the total cost is unknown (the council doesn't publish any spending details), for all we know they may spend £10m a year on tea and biscuits, so £2000 isn't much of a sacrifice...

...and there's worrying news that there'll be a £30,000 reduction in the support budget for Chief Executive's office....this could mean the loss of the Presidential Pastry Chef and possibly even the butler...Mr James may be forced to polish his CBE himself...

Monday's meeting will be webcast from 10am.


Anonymous said...

Wot no jammy dodgers!

Tessa said...

Oh the "Jammy Dodger" himself is under no threat - still keeps one little helper, from the looks of it.

Anonymous said...

Leisure Trust? Another arms length company for CCC?
Trust? Foxes and henhouses come to mind. What happened in Garnant. How much did that cost the ratepayers?
And despite 'privatising' it to an external company, it's now back in the hands of tha Club Members themselves. Strange that! They didnt even make the cut the first time round, yet they were the ones to bale out the Council when push came to shove!

Anonymous said...

As usual , no strategy! Giving departments % reductions is stupid. Have a plan around priorities and consult with council taxpayers on those priorities, people are not stupid! Stop doing what you should not be doing and prioritise what you should be doing.
Why the hell are we giving money to churches and bowling alleys!

Blodwen said...

The Jammy Dodger - love it! Perfect description - that's got to be his handle from now on.

And yes, Anon @ 00.23 - you've hit the nail on the head and I couldn't agree more except that I would add "and why the hell have we given/are we giving so much money to a rugby club?".

Anonymous said...

Education budget reductions = Redundancies no question about it. Deficit budgets not acceptable.

Cneifiwr said...

It is of course purely a coincidence that Mr James has been complaining bitterly about having to fund school redundancies out of central council funds rather than delegated education budgets. How unfair that schools can go around making staff redundant willy nilly with County Hall having to pick up the bill.

With the education budget being slashed by £18 million, there will be a lot more redundancies. Wouldn't it be wonderful if schools had to pick up the bill for that themselves, resulting in even bigger cuts to the tedious business of having to teach children?

And while we're at it, let's start charging parents for school transport.

Officially, of course, education spending is supposed to be ring-fenced, but you didn't really believe that meant the education budget was safe from cuts, did you?