Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Down, down, deeper and down

And so the pit of debt deepens.

So far, the Council have admitted that the forecast overspend is currently running at some £26 million - which is only a verbal report on the situation up until the end of July. As that was over £6 million worse than at the end of May, continued progress in that vein would suggest that at the half year point, the shortfall should be somewhere over £32 million. The major problem is that the £42 million of 'efficiency savings' upon which this year's budget was predicated has failed to be delivered in anything like the expected amount. In fact, around £30 million of those savings look like they'll miss the boat for 2009/10. Cllr Alden, a man well versed in the control of public funds - although as a tax specialist, he tends to try to find ways of minimising what the government can extract from the wealthy - wanted to sue the vastly overpaid consultants who are supposed to be locating and delivering these savings.

What is even more peculiar is that the new Voyager system was supposed to allow instant access to the current state of the accounts, but the only figures made available to the councillors date from July. Even more oddly, there isn't anything on the agenda for the next Cabinet meeting on Monday, when you would think that this would be high profile, especially as the whole 'prudential borrowing' scam appears to be reaching the end of the line of credit.

Now, either Voyager isn't working as promised or somebody isn't telling the whole truth. Either way, things look gloomy.

So, how do you think that the council proposes to resolve this shortfall?

A - Sacking the senior management team who have so evidently failed to deliver

B - Dumping Crapita and the overpaid consultants

C - Make long-serving, loyal workers redundant and cut services to Birmingham residents

Anyone prepared to bet on A or B being the preferred option?

Thought not.

Tory Cllr James Hutchings told The Stirrer that
Obviously certain jobs will be lost but the aim is to improve services. That is more important that cost savings.

But don't worry, council serfs, the management and elected members will share your pain. They will forgo their biscuits at meetings. Always leading from the front, our brave lads.

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