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The truths they don't want you to read....

Monday, May 24, 2010

How are the cuts to be implemented?

It was obvious that the Scottish Budget was going to take a hit, and that it is 'only' £332,000,000 in the first round of urgent cuts is slightly less savage than I expected.

However, I suspect that the second round and the emergency Budget will bring further deeper and more painful cuts.

It is quite intriguing that the Chancellor has allowed the Scottish Government to defer making the cuts until 2001 if it wishes.

This indicates a clear level of understanding of the nature of devolved power, and that to try to impose immediate cuts - when an agreed budget has been set in Scotland - is neither reasonable nor fair.

It also shows a fair degree of political acumen, that was largely lacking in the previous Labour administration.

The SNP have sought to have the cuts held over until 2011 so that they could portray them as "Tory cuts" imposed on Scotland as a major plank of the election campaign. A strategy that would have worked well politically, had the ground not been cut from under them by the Chancellor. So now the cuts are going to be portrayed as exactly what the SNP asked for, and when they asked for them.

The Holyrood election campaign is going to be fight on the grounds of "How will you implement the cuts, if you get into power?" Which will make for an interesting campaign.

The SNP, controlling the budget and the purse strings at present are the only party who will have the knowledge of how to achieve this (whether they want to make cuts or not).

Labour on the other hand, can rightly claim that they need to see the books first, and if they play their cards right, could create a powerful attack.

The Tories and the LibDems will take the blame for the cuts, and are likely to suffer as a consequence.

One of the depressing elements of the dismal science of economics is that there are so few certainties, but I think that deferring all the cuts until 2011 is a major economic mistake, as these cuts have to be made at some point. The SNP Government obviously hope that the economy will improve by then and that the cuts can be avoided or mitigated, but I strongly suspect that this is wildly over-optimistic, and that the party political imperative is over-ruling good governance.

So let's see just how and where these first set of cuts are to be made; and an early and clear indication of the spending plans for 2001/12 will help everyone to plan, and allow the political arguments to be bases on facts and not just supposition.


Anonymous said...

Sorry - dopey brain today. Does that mean that we get no cuts this year and then a double dip plus of cuts in 2011/12 ? All at once ?

LazyChicken said...

Yes, unless you can fund an financial black hole with bluster and bull$hit.

Anonymous said...

Aaaahhh, right So let me see. As from April 2011 the Council has to implement:

- the Western Isles' LA share of £664 million budget cuts; plus

- the Western Isles' LA share of whatever Scotland gets in terms of additional cuts from the emergency Budget (possibly times 2); plus

- dealing with the second year of the existing 12% across 3 years cuts imposed by the Scottish Exceutive; plus

- dealing with whatever overspend the Council has from 2009/2010 as moderated by the obscure schmoozing of the decisions (p72) of the Policy and Resources Committee on 18 February with regard to Balances retention; plus

- dealing with any overspend during 2010/2011.

Or have I got it badly wrong ?

I seem to remember the Council talking about going out to community consultation on the pre-existing budget cuts but can find no trace of it so far in published minutes. Nonetheless, I would have thought they would have been making plans to do so as a matter of some urgency.

Anonymous said...

I may have this wrong. In fact, I probably have got this wrong. Back of the envelope figures i.e. take with large pinch of salt give a reduced budget of 31% overall for the Comhairle. Anyone else get close.

Oh, also noticed that the Cabinet in Westminster have all taken 5% pay cuts. Could everyone from middle manager upwards in the Comhairle follow this lead?

Anonymous said...

I recall someone (to my shame I can't remember who) talking about the West - and that we currently 'live like Gods'.

Perhaps we need to consider how we should live in the future as mortals.

Anonymous said...

Could someone remind me what the Council's Chief Executive's salary is ? I rather suspect that he makes fewer serious and direct decisions with regard to real people than the 'lowliest' of his staff.