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Councils ‘Heading For The Rocks’ Due To Cuts

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http://www.thestar.co.uk/news/local/councils-heading-for-the-rocks-due-to-cuts-1-6158126

Sheffield MP and former city council leader Clive Betts this week raised the “realistic prospect” of some local authorities no longer having the money to run services such as museums, art galleries and leisure facilities.

He told the House of Commons that English local government “is heading for the rocks” because of the Government’s “unsustainable approach”.

Mr Betts, who is chairman of the Commons’ Communities and Local Government Committee and was leader of Sheffield City Council from 1987 to 1992, said a significant number of councils – “of all shapes, sizes and political controls – are rapidly approaching a lack of financial viability”.

The prospect of the end of all local discretionary services, such as museums and art galleries, sport and leisure facilities, parks and recreation, in some areas is now a realistic prospect

“We are not talking about the odd council failing, but the prospect of a systemic failure of local government as a whole.”

And he totally ignores the pension liability issue which is making all of this possible and of course the large debts many councils have run up over the past couple of decades which haven't been paid off. Servicing the debt means less discretionary spending. Some of this has nothing to to with the "government" it's down to poor decisions being made at the local level by local councillors!

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http://www.thestar.co.uk/news/local/councils-heading-for-the-rocks-due-to-cuts-1-6158126

And he totally ignores the pension liability issue which is making all of this possible and of course the large debts many councils have run up over the past couple of decades which haven't been paid off. Servicing the debt means less discretionary spending. Some of this has nothing to to with the "government" it's down to poor decisions being made at the local level by local councillors!

This

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Exactly right, they will sacrifice any service that they can in order to protect staff pensions.

Now I am all for employer contributions to pension schemes and I don't begrudge someone who took a job with a defined benefits pension taking a stand to protect that contractual entitlement

But, if it comes at the expense of public services, the public at large might object

And run on their local town hall with pitchforks

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Exactly right, they will sacrifice any service that they can in order to protect staff pensions.

It is far more complicated than staff pensions.

What we are seeing at local council level is the same that we are seeing at national level. Huge debts. A gigantic public sector. A private sector reliant on lucrative public sector contracts. A failing education system and a falling tax base.

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It is far more complicated than staff pensions.

What we are seeing at local council level is the same that we are seeing at national level. Huge debts. A gigantic public sector. A private sector reliant on lucrative public sector contracts. A failing education system and a falling tax base.

Sad but true. ;)

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Oh no how will the museum employees cope?

a lot less time spent health and safetying, and how they will cope when the Diversity Office is closed, heaven only knows.

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Maybe they could withdraw the money they put into the "lend a hand" mortgage schemes. There are some things councils should not be doing. One of those is singling out a handful of lucky residents and giving them a cash bribe to buy an overpriced house in the area.

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Its the attitude of a spoiled child faced with the reality of it now actually being time to tidy their room.

They need to feel some pressure or they won't improve on their waste, hearing these spendthrifts start to whine is as expected and the beginning of the process.

Some of course would actually rather 'go out of business' and close services than actually do their jobs better as they can point at the cut backs and blame them for their own inability to spend within their means. Many will choose that course I expect, those that try it will need to be replaced quickly to minimise the damage they will do.

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It is far more complicated than staff pensions.

What we are seeing at local council level is the same that we are seeing at national level. Huge debts. A gigantic public sector. A private sector reliant on lucrative public sector contracts. A failing education system and a falling tax base.

Yes, those do look like the most credible reasons for the problem.

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a lot less time spent health and safetying, and how they will cope when the Diversity Office is closed, heaven only knows.

Some well appointed IT departments in museums sometimes.

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Yes, those do look like the most credible reasons for the problem.

I think that over the years councils have been allocated a budget and have been used to spending it and more, a bad thing to have any kind of surplus because a surplus means less money next year......the target should be how much can be saved instead of how much can be spent. ;)

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Its the attitude of a spoiled child faced with the reality of it now actually being time to tidy their room.

They need to feel some pressure or they won't improve on their waste, hearing these spendthrifts start to whine is as expected and the beginning of the process.

Some of course would actually rather 'go out of business' and close services than actually do their jobs better as they can point at the cut backs and blame them for their own inability to spend within their means. Many will choose that course I expect, those that try it will need to be replaced quickly to minimise the damage they will do.

YES

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Just empty the bins, Council, and put bulbs in street lamps. And fix the roads! :huh:

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Classic "Washington Monument" effect, expect a lot more over the next months

Interesting point, instead of say charging entrance, cutting back expenses related to marginal or semi needed functions, they'll rather inefficiently simply close off museums, say, despite building and security costs continuing, dog in the manger style, and blame the government

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Just empty the bins, Council, and put bulbs in street lamps. And fix the roads! :huh:

And maintain a police force.

And a fire department.

And care for the elderly.

And care for the disabled or orphaned children.

And provide libraries and computers access for the poor who cannot afford books or computers themselves.

And provide local planning guidance and governance.

And recycle refuge to avoid dumping in landfill.

And maintain parks.

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Interesting point, instead of say charging entrance, cutting back expenses related to marginal or semi needed functions, they'll rather inefficiently simply close off museums, say, despite building and security costs continuing, dog in the manger style, and blame the government

Reminded me of this. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-somerset-24074599 ;)

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And maintain a police force.

Ok, Mr Chimp, I know they do all those things, but I don't want my council tax bill in Vietnamese. I believe that to be a waste.I feel they pay their senior managers too well, and the working people not enough. :huh:

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I know its easy to knock local councils - but they actually are a lot more efficient in practice than central government.

Look at the collection rates for council tax and business rates - 98 to 99% in most cases. If central government could match that on its taxes we probably wouldn't have a deficit.

Also re pensions - while its not much comfort at least the local government pension scheme has a fund where contributions are invested so there is a pot to draw out of. It won't be enough - but its a lot better than most central government pensions which are paid entirely out of current taxation revenues at the time.

So lets not knock local councils too much - central government is causing the mess we are in. You may even need their help one day if you need social care!

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I know its easy to knock local councils - but they actually are a lot more efficient in practice than central government.

Look at the collection rates for council tax and business rates - 98 to 99% in most cases. If central government could match that on its taxes we probably wouldn't have a deficit.

[/Quote]

Prove it

Also re pensions - while its not much comfort at least the local government pension scheme has a fund where contributions are invested so there is a pot to draw out of. It won't be enough - but its a lot better than most central government pensions which are paid entirely out of current taxation revenues at the time.

Again back it up

So lets not knock local councils too much - central government is causing the mess we are in. You may even need their help one day if you need social care!

Oh stop playing the threatening bully in friendly clothing

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Ok, Mr Chimp, I know they do all those things, but I don't want my council tax bill in Vietnamese. I believe that to be a waste.I feel they pay their senior managers too well, and the working people not enough. :huh:

I agree. I don't know what the answer is however. Unless local governments were forbidden from borrowing money an only able to spend council tax revenue. Perhaps that would gap pay levels and spending.

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Prove it

Again back it up

Oh stop playing the threatening bully in friendly clothing

Well as for collection rates they are published here based on audited figures by their external auditors. Council tax collection rates were 97% last year and NNDR 98%. The figures are higher for most authorities - but dragged down by a few inner city councils with higher population turnover rates. In the City of London 99% of business rates are collected in full - how well does central government do by contrast in terms of collecting taxes off the banks?

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/208764/Statistics_Release_Collection_Rates_2012-13.pdf

In countries where services are run locally they are usually far better and more efficient than when run by monolithic government departments.

Re pension funds - do your research and check your councils accounts. There are separate funds each invested in the markets for each pension fund.The largest is the London pension funds authority which has £3.5bn invested - and is described by Bloomberg as one of the biggest pension fund investors in the world.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/London_Pensions_Fund_Authority

As for me being a bully - your post is the one thats agressive. If you can quote facts rather than bile against local councils - who are the ones providing support to some of the most vulnerable in society - then it might be more helpful.

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Well as for collection rates they are published here based on audited figures by their external auditors. Council tax collection rates were 97% last year and NNDR 98%. The figures are higher for most authorities - but dragged down by a few inner city councils with higher population turnover rates. In the City of London 99% of business rates are collected in full - how well does central government do by contrast in terms of collecting taxes off the banks?

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/208764/Statistics_Release_Collection_Rates_2012-13.pdf

In countries where services are run locally they are usually far better and more efficient than when run by monolithic government departments.

Re pension funds - do your research and check your councils accounts. There are separate funds each invested in the markets for each pension fund.The largest is the London pension funds authority which has £3.5bn invested - and is described by Bloomberg as one of the biggest pension fund investors in the world.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/London_Pensions_Fund_Authority

As for me being a bully - your post is the one thats agressive. If you can quote facts rather than bile against local councils - who are the ones providing support to some of the most vulnerable in society - then it might be more helpful.

You used qualitative and unobjective comparisons

I haven't actually physically threatened you, you have me

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I agree. I don't know what the answer is however. Unless local governments were forbidden from borrowing money an only able to spend council tax revenue. Perhaps that would gap pay levels and spending.

Councils are already under a legal obligation to run a balanced budget - not that no borrowing is allowed, but fairly restricted grounds on which they can borrow, has to be over a given timeframe for a particular reason, with clearly identified routes to pay the interest and the debt at the end of the term. A budget may not be passed unless the finance chief (the 'section 151 officer') approves it, no matter the political control.

Just about the only unfunded ongoing obligations they have are PFI contracts, which can last for decades and be real millstones around their necks. Council tax revenue, incidentally, is only a fraction of the budget - around half of it comes in the grant from central government, and the rest made up in various income streams (charging for parking, certain library services, etc)

The cuts Pickles is forcing local government to absorb are unmatched anywhere else in government, losing 25-35% of income over four years. However you feel about funding levels, forcing them to change at that rate is unreasonable unless your aim is to disable local government altogether - the climbdown is simply too steep.

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