Sunday, February 17, 2019
We should have done this anyway
I recorded this at the end of January - it was after a Gateshead Council advisory group that had been held to consider the budget. The Council has a £29 million funding gap to bridge so some painful decisions have to be made. Nevertheless, there were some proposals in the budget which, even in the times of pre-austerity, would have been the right ones to take. A couple of examples spring to mind. The Council has a large fleet of vehicles and therefore a large fuel bill. However, if staff are sent on a training course on how to drive more efficiently, a saving on fuel of £120,000 would be possible. I pointed out that this is something good not only from the financial point of view, but from an environmental perspective as well.
Another interesting example of making savings but also improving the service was with children's services where earlier intervention leads to greater savings in the future as issues are tackled more quickly before they escalate into bigger problems. This is a reform that should have been done regardless of the current round of cuts.
So, while none of us want to be in the austerity suffered by local government, a few very small positive flashes of gold can be seen in the pan.