Monday, 15 February 2010
Kirklees Budget thoughts
This is the 10th Kirklees Budget where I have written, with my colleagues, the Green Party budget amendment. Of course this budget is the first one under the gloomy laden background of public spending constraints with job losses inevitable and sure to grow in the next year. The Conservatives are apparently going to have a 'pretend budget amendment'. They are going to undoubtedly play the lower Council Tax card. Irresponsible? Yes! Will it result in reduced services and job losses? Almost certainly. Would they do it if they actually ran the Council? I honestly don't know. Is it designed to get lots of lovely votes by conning people into believing they are fiscally responsible? You bet your ass it is!
So what real room for manouvere is there really in the budget? With inflation , increased costs and so many ringfenced services a standstill budget is effectively a cut which most people don't appreciate. So how far can it go up (and down) At the top end not much. Try going above 2.5% and save some jobs and services and government will cap you. Try a standstill budget or even a cut and you're cutting services or increasing costs to pass onto somtimes vulnerable households.
So what can you do with budget amendment? Find things to support that don't cost a lot but have a big impact or pick your supporting funding sources imaginatively? This year is harder than any I have seen but in the Green Amendment we will have helped save some jobs, help people into employment, reduced energy costs and of course improve the environment. Not as ambitious as I would like but there you go.