We store cookies on your device to make sure we give you the best experience on this website. I'm fine with this - Turn cookies off
Switch to an accessible version of this website which is easier to read. (requires cookies)

The true costs of the County Council budget

February 17, 2006 2:00 PM
The three unwise Tories

The unwise Tory budget is based upon cutting services to the public

Surrey County Council's increase in Council Tax of "only" 5% may not be as high as in some recent years, but not only is it around twice the rate of inflation, it comes at a high price in terms of cuts in services, with the expectation of hundreds of staff redundancies to follow in April.

There are two main causes. Firstly the Labour government has been passing more and more duties to the council each year, without passing on sufficient money to fully pay for them, whilst at the same time changing the way they distribute their grant to councils in a way that reduces Surrey's share year after year.

Secondly the Tory executive of SCC has been slow to respond to warnings that the government were unlikely to change their policies and therefore efficiency savings needed to be found or else front-line services would suffer. Each year for at least four years Lib Dem opposition spokesmen proposed a more radical approach to budgeting from a zero base, instead of automatically adding inflation to the previous year's expenditure, but until now this was rejected.

Late in 2005 outside experts who were called in as consultants to help, recommended zero base budgeting for the future and proposed drastic programmes of redundancies and cost cutting, including a number of front-line services. Had the necessary efficiencies been sought starting four years earlier, they could have been introduced more gradually and massive redundancies avoided by the "natural wastage" of staff moving on to other jobs.

Unfortunately the executive's brief to the consultants for this Business Delivery Review (BDR) was to look for savings that could be achieved whilst still retaining an "excellent" CPA rating, rather than emphasising the need not to cut the front line services that the public need and want.

Accordingly the Lib Dem group voted against both the BDR review and the Tory budget based upon it. Epsom & Ewell residents should note that their RA county councillors again failed to oppose either the BDR or the Tory budget.

Details of some proposed service cuts are given on the Surrey Lib Dem website and can be found using the Related Links below.

Related Links