Financial expert identifies £33m shortfall in RBWM Budgets

around the borough

The Conservative Party who rule the roost over at RBWM council chambers keep crowing about cutting council tax but at what cost?

A report just in highlights a £33m shortfall in funding, a 17% staff attrition rate and 145 late reports Mar-Dec 14 due to what can only be described as arrogant miss management by the current Conservative councillors…

Time for a change?

Wisdom Da Costa runs an accountancy practise and is an Independent councillor for Clewer North, Windsor. He’s held a council post since a by-election last year, here are his findings…

A hole in the RBWM Budget – blog

26/02/2015 Homepage Blog

It seems that what Jonathan Portes, director of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR), said about David Cameron could be equally apt for the current RBWM administration. I quote,

“What is not on offer in the real world is what the Conservatives have promised, which is to cut public spending drastically, maintain service quality, and preserve the NHS as free at the point of use.”

So, there’s a hole in the RBWM Budget, with reduced services for reduced council tax. Find out what Cllr Wisdom Da Costa really said in the Budget debate on Tuesday night, about this lemon of a budget.

A lemon of a budget

Summary

  • We are seeing a reduction in services, an erosion of democracy, missing provisions, a £33m hole in our budget, and all for a 37p per week reduction in Council Tax. 
  • The principles behind this budget need reassessing, to put people first

£33m Hole in the RBWM Budget

  • There is a £33m hole in the Council’s finances, with unidentified savings needed in the future just to maintain the current Council tax levels.
  • Is it prudent to reduce Council tax thereby asking Future generations of residents pay the price with
    • Further future reductions in services
    • Large future increases in Council tax
    • 37p per week reduction today!

Sharp practices

  • We’re using grants intended to improve services to reduce Council Tax
    • £100K from Better Care Fund, which should be used for better care, and not to subsidise Council tax cuts
    • £182K from Care Act funding, is a risky move seeing as we don’t even know what the NEW law says we have to do
  • Movement in reserves
    • Since 2010, the Development Fund reserves have dropped by £1.3m
    • At the same time, £1m has been used from the reserves to fund revenue items like Salaries, severance pay, and training , and
    • £300K for consultancy
  • Is this prudent to siphon funds this way to limit the effect on council tax?

Lack of prudence with Local Plan, & loss of funding

  • No provision has been included in Budget to get the Local Plan across the finish line
  • No provision has been made for the pursuant, potential loss of Community Infrastructure Levy income
  • S106 income which it replaces generated £13m in last two years
    • 13/14 7.8m,
    • 14/15 4.8m
  • Funding should be used to repair and improve schools, improve roads – state of our roads & pavements is generally still aweful, causing problems for motorists, motorcyclists, cyclists, pedestrians, and those with mobility issues.
  • Appendix C, of the budget notes a 65% drop next year in Capital spending, which will dramatically effect expenditure on Adult Social Care, Housing, Community Facilities, Libraries, Road & pavements (Spending is set to fall from £48m to £17m)
  • We face a depletion in reserves, or increased borrowings in future years

Poor treatment of Council Staff

  • Observer reported “four of the 26 most senior staff at the Royal Borough have either left their posts since October or are due to leave in the coming weeks.”
  • Staff turnover, retention, and continuity are problematic
    • All but one of Slough directors in post for 5 years or more
    • Bracknell directors average 8 years
    • Wokingham directors more than 5 years
    • But RBWM directors, have a high turnover, averaging of 2 years in post
    • Why can’t we retain good staff? Why do staff leave?
  • We treat our staff poorly
    • Effectively no wage increases for many for 5 years
    • Increased workloads, job loading
  • No of vacancies on the increase again, at 8%
  • Staff turnover has also increased to 17%
  • We are bleeding key people, and the loss of continuity & loss of invaluable local knowledge is hurting our service provision
  • And the Council are using sharp practice, and actually Budgeting for high levels of staff turnover, and trying to sneakily pocket the money (£360k) we should be spending on staff to reduce Council tax.
  • Staff morale poor, unpleasant workloads, deteriorating terms & conditions

Reduction in services

  • Late reports
    • Council missed it’s target of only 10% late reports with up to 33% of reports being late in some months.
    • Between March and December 2014, 145 were late (22%)
    • Other neighbouring councils report only 1-2 per year.
  • Late reports erode democracy, and prevent Councillors from effectively scrutinizing content with a view to ensuring that our residents are served well, and nothing untoward is missed.
  • The IPMR report notes unacceptable service levels by the Council’s own admission in key areas including
    • Enforcement cases under investigation – 20% off target
    • % Planning appeals lost – 33% off target
    • Time taken to process Housing Benefit and Council tax Support – more than 100% off target
    • Stability of placements of children in RBWM’s care – off target – timed out during debate
    • Recruitment of approved foster carers – off target – timed out during debate
  • It looks like we have cut too far, it’s not sustainable, and will further weaken our borough’s position going forward.

Summary

  • We are seeing a reduction in services, an erosion of democracy, missing provisions, a £33m hole in our budget, and all for a 37p per week reduction in Council Tax. 
  • The principles behind this budget need reassessing, to put people first

There appears to be something wrong… the only real way to fix it is to ensure scrutiny by independent representatives in chamber and this can only logically occur if YOU vote for Independent Councillors on 7th May.

Thank you.

Jon Davey

wwra logoMy campaign is being sponsored by West Windsor Residents Association. They have an excellent local reputation for backing good eggs and they have picked a few others for the elections on May 7th.

CLEWER NORTH
Carol Da Costa
Kevin Chapman
Wisdom Da Costa

PARK WARD
Franco De Luca
Jon Davey

Advertisements

5 thoughts on “Financial expert identifies £33m shortfall in RBWM Budgets

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s