Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Coalition and HDC finances

In the coalition agreement is a proposal for a 1 year freeze in Council Tax and maybe for 2. This will just add to the woes of HDC which is in deep financial trouble. The Medium Term Plan (MTP) on page 31 shows the need for £6.1 million of cuts. Freezing the Council Tax will mean HDC will have to find a further £255,000 in cuts and a second year freeze would add a further £257,000.

The other threat to HDC finances has to be any cut in Government Grant. HDC is forecasting to receive £12.4 million from Government. A 10% cut adds £1.24 million to the deficit. A 20% cut adds £2.48 million. But that is for later in the civic year.

Hopefully they will save some money from the abolition of the Standards Board and Audit Commissions utterly useless Comprehensive Area Assessment. The Comprehensive Performance Assessment is also utter useless.  To often the local councils are looking towards these plans as their gold stars. Resources can be skewed towards getting these gold stars. 

I like the Coalition plans for local referenda for excessive council tax increases. Though excessive needs to be defined! These referenda will cost money. I do feel we have to stop scrimping on democracy but combine these with local elections they would make sense. Huntingdonshire could be one of the first councils having to use this method. 

The main problem with HDC finances is the inability of the Conservatives to take action over their massive deficit. This inability will haunt HDC. The Conservatives have had years to make the necessary cuts to services to match the Council Tax level. The Conservatives boast about the low council tax rates and low tax rises. Now they will have to match their boast with the cuts necessary to budget into balance.

1 comment:

Ste said...

The first Overview and Scrutiny - Economic well-being meeting I attend is sure to be interesting, Dave. I look forward to hearing what the Conservatives are planning