As debated extensively on this blog, the central plank of the new Administration's Education policy has recently gone belly-up ... due entirely to the way they mishandled it ... and they have now top-sliced a whole range of services to compensate for that fact.
There just isn't space to list all the service reductions here - but PLEASE do have a look at the full report (in particular, the appendices), which can be found here.
And yes, we did get the expected defense that went along the lines of: "of course, we're only having to do this because of that terrible financial hole we inherited' ... well, as I've repeated frequently now, blaming your predecessors is easy but it won't be possible for ever and sooner or later it will become apparent that this mess has been the making of THIS Administration and nobody else.
Constructive alternatives were offered and rudely rejected. Revenue options were put forward and refused. And please don't forget:
- the Children and Families Department alone has an annual revenue budget of over £300million
- the Council's overall, combined annual revenue and capital budget is over £1billion
- the Council owns over £2billion of fixed assets
As we've now illustrated on several occasions, there are ways of funding (what are admittedly expensive) services for those most in need - it just needs a bit of political will. I'm not saying that everything in the last 23-years was perfect, but there were never service reductions of this scale and of this type ... services for the vulnerable, the elderly and the young being the main victims.
But - very unfortunately from my political perspective - it has become apparent, for real from today, that the Council is indeed now being run by politicians who don't want to prioritise services for those most in need.
To be fair, it has to be said, that they did show a slight glimmer of actually taking on-board "a very few" of our earlier suggestions and have at least managed to defer some of the worst 'Health and Social Care' proposals (but not the Children and Families proposals) and have at last accepted that, in-extremis, it is entirely rational to use one-off capital receipts to provide some revenue protection.
That said, the omens for a more inclusive policy-making approach still appear pretty bleak.
Still "old politics in a new setting" I'm afraid.