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To think how can Government departments lose an additional 40% of funding

46 replies

AsongforEurope · 21/07/2015 22:26

Osbourne announced today some Government departments will have to make 40% savings on top of cuts already announced. AIBU To think this is just ridiculous.

OP posts:
larant · 22/07/2015 00:16

Yes it can be run cheaper. This is done by -

  • doing contracts and cutting out any extras. So parks staff were cut and were told to only mow the grass and cut back bushes. There was no longer any planting of flowers, or involvement in events held at the park.
  • staff wages were cut so that highly experienced and qualified staff left, and services were provided by less experienced staff
  • staff were told to fake outputs so the service looks like it is performing better than it actually is
  • a company provides a very cheap service for a year, then hikes the price up once the local authority no longer has the staff or capacity to run it itself
  • a company bids to provide a cheap service, then part of the way through the year demands more money or it will pull out immediately. Usually with a service that the local authority have to provide.
toopoliteforwords · 22/07/2015 00:55

I don't think cut backs are such a bad thing necessarily. I think often councils etc look at huge budgets and tend to forget to look after the pennies. And even quite recently if you know how to ask there is money available. (Have NC and being vague cos I feel disloyal)
A group I'm involved with did a project which benefited children from a far from underprivileged area. A lot of the DCs involved had done something similar before supported by a council grant. Because the organisers didn't think they'd get the council grant again they put in a few applications to different bodies and got them all. Including a council one again. They tried to refuse some of them and were told by the council to keep the money cos it was part of a ring fenced budget they had to spend and had no-one else to give it to Shock This is from a council who supposedly have a huge deficit.
We had to spend all the money - you can't underspend grants. It was actually hard to spend enough Hmm. Nothing was 'budget' And the worst part is that most of the parents would and could (and arguably should) have paid for their child to take part ... no grant would have been needed.
That group were very good at applying for and therefore getting grants. I felt really uncomfortable as a lot of the time we were looking at things to spend money so we could get a grant and it didn't often work out as the best value for money. Interesting enough these people worked in public sector type jobs. (Also I'm sure some groups just didn't have the people with the right skill sets to get these grants -and they were probably the groups who actually needed them.)
I contacted the same council for advice on grants for another group for short term help towards running costs. A grant wasn't available for that but I was told to apply for one for equipment (they didn't need) because they would get that. They would have to buy new equipment with the money but then they could sell their old equipment and keep the proceeds for running costs. I was Shock. They would never get as much for second hand stuff as new so they would need to get a grant for a much larger amount than they actually needed - I was told to do that. To me that just didn't make sense - a real waste of money. (They made it without the grant but it was touch and go for a while...)
We are not talking about millions - less than £10k in all - a drop in the ocean for a council budget...
But to me that is 8-9 people's council tax for the year...worth taking care with how you spend it - but I don't think the council see it like that...

Icimoi · 22/07/2015 01:30

I really cannot see how this will work, especially in local government. For instance, the current situation with SEN reforms is absolutely chaotic - local councils are really struggling in trying to implement major changes and, in most cases, are failing. If they then have to implement staff cuts in children's services, the whole thing will collapse.

BerylStreep · 22/07/2015 01:37

There are lots of things that could be stopped to save money. FOI & DPA requests take up 5% of our Branch budget alone. The requirement to enter into endless correspondence with complainants - it takes up vast amounts of time.

Micksy · 22/07/2015 02:39

My daughter asked me yesterday morning where she was going to get books for the summer, since our library had exploded. I tried to explain about the cuts and her words were "Money isn't everything, mum. People need books so they can learn things."
Later this year, were going to have to have a similar conversation about swimming pools.
I'm just glad we're all healthy, because otherwise our conversations could be a whole lot harder.

Plarail123 · 22/07/2015 03:47

Bonfire of the Quangos part 3. Bring it on!

larant · 22/07/2015 10:00

toopoliteforwords - I am shocked at your example. Where I live lots of small groups have had their grants cut, and are no longer running. These groups were volunteers working with very needy children and young people. Are you in a very well off part of the country?

FlowerBomber · 22/07/2015 10:40

The Met Police has already had to make savings of £769.4m between March 2011 and March 2015). Now it seems it is required to cut what is left by 40%. I can not begin to imagine how this can be done, certainly not without a very noticeable impact on service delivery.

This is from the Telegraph in December 2014 -
Lincolnshire chief constable, Neil Rhodes, warns that his force will be the first to fall under the current unsustainable funding arrangements

One of Britain's largest rural police forces will effectively go out of business within three years, its Chief Constable has warned.

Neil Rhodes, the head of Lincolnshire Police, said under the current funding arrangements, his force would be “unsustainable” by 2018 and will be the “first in the country to fall”.

From -
The overall police workforce (including officers, PCSOs and staff) dropped from just under 245,000 in March 2010 to just under 208,000 in September 2014.
I have read that numbers are set to drop by a similar level, to around 170,000, over the next five years.

I'd love to know how a private business could take over policing. Who would trust a private police service that was trying to squeeze a profit out of dealing with a serious road traffic accident, investigating a burglary or policing an anti-austerity demonstration in Parliament Square?

So I agree with you OP, I can not begin to imagine how these cuts can be implemented.

BerylStreep · 22/07/2015 10:50

FlowerBomber there are so many things though that police forces have to spend money on, which aren't front line services. For example, as I mentioned below, endless correspondence with complainants.

There was an article in the Times recently about a complaint case that had cost hundreds of thousands to date, and it was all because some man had a go at an officer who was in Sainsburys, on duty, buying replacement shoelaces for his boots which had just broken.

Only yesterday there was an article on the BBC website about the money that Health Trusts spend administering speeding tickets for ambulances. That administrative time will also be matched in the police. There wasn't a jot of recognition of the irony that the reporter had obtained the information through a lazy journalism request FOI request, which in itself will have taken hours upon hours to collate the response to.

FlowerBomber · 22/07/2015 11:04

I take you point Beryl but addressing those kinds of issues is not going to make enough difference when the savings the Met, for example, will have to find are between £1.5 and £2 billion. Frontline services will inevitably have to be withdrawn.

The Met has tried to offset some of the budget cuts by selling it's estate -
'major revamp of the Met estate, which has raised £215m so far through the sale of 52 buildings (with plans to sell up to 200 buildings by 2016/17). The overhaul is estimated to save over £60m in annual running costs by 2016.' From The Guardian Dec 2014.

But that can only be done once.

SilverDragonfly1 · 22/07/2015 11:46

Beryl This would be easily solved by agencies actually being transparent about these things to start with and by dealing with complaints properly early on. I have had to make complaints to various government agencies over the years and the process always involves me writing a clear letter explaining the issue, weeks later receiving a form letter that has little or nothing to do with the issue, me sending another letter explaining why the response is no good, weeks later receiving another form letter that has little or nothing to do with my response... HMRC for example spent over a year doing this before my complaint was resolved (in my favour). If someone had just spent 1/2 an hour looking at my file and writing a proper, targeted response, it would have been over in days.

It's rarely the complainant's fault that complaints take up your working time...

toopoliteforwords · 22/07/2015 11:54

larant not really but we are in a relatively affluent part though. As I said they were very good at looking at what was available and tailoring something to fit and then being creative. It is hard to get money towards running costs to keep a group going but if you come up with a 'project' they are easier to get.
One eg we got a smallish grant to improve our building (we had been asked to contribute to this - it was an issue with our landlord, we were causing accidental damage, excess wear and tear) because 'we' paid for the whole improvement we got a discount on the effectively help with our running costs. The big project for the DCs - we didn't/couldn't charge but we had a voluntary collection bucket for parents who were generous cos the activity had been free and that again brought in extra money for the group.
And don't get me wrong the group was really struggling for a while but I think we maybe got too good at it. (We are ok at the moment so have stopped applying)
Writing a good grant application is a skill. And these were very well educated people, some with related previous experience -they knew what to say. I do think that maybe they should rethink the criteria (eg the improvement cost more than our rent discount) and assist groups who aren't as lucky with their volunteers
...and actually give out smaller amounts sometimes - something else we found you had to ask for a minimum amount so you only need £200 for something but have to ask for £500.

LittleLionMansMummy · 22/07/2015 11:58

I don't understand why the NHS is ring fenced. Don't get me wrong I'm a huge advocate of our health system and believe we should fight to save it but I know people who work in the NHS who believe savings are possible by cutting down on huge amounts of waste they see every day. I don't believe it's an efficient organisation and think it needs to make efficiencies. I work in policing and think the left level of cuts already made is risking lives. There is no more fat here.

larant · 22/07/2015 11:58

Interesting. Our council now gives out very few grants. So lots of the playscheme and afterschool club grants have been cut. There is much less being run by volunteers than there were 5 to 10 years ago. And these were groups that were used to applying for grants.

It is a very deprived area. So maybe there is just too much competition for the grants there are.

SilverDragonfly1 · 22/07/2015 12:13

So much money is wasted by the way budgets are administered. All the ring fencing and making departments/ councils spend it all or get less next year. My solution is- give each government agency, department and council a figure. Say 'this is your budget, spend it on whatever you need. If you make any savings, you keep 50% of them to spend on any project you like. The other 50% goes back into the treasury to be used towards next year's budget. You will not be financially penalised next year if you manage to save money this year.'

AsongforEurope · 22/07/2015 12:27

I work in the public sector and already serves in my area of adult ed are stripped to the bone. Before the cuts, we targeted adults in deprived areas through a softly softly approach of come along for a cup of tea, get to know us, meet people then after a while, why not have a go at this course and we have free childcare to help you do it.

It worked! People had a lifeline, not just that, a focus and it built self esteem and a pathway out of poverty.

In my opinion it is shortsighted to have scrapped all of this. It's a travesty. Looking at what to cut, the leaders in local authorities see it as an easy thing to scrap without recognising all the benefits this sort of provision gives (and ultimately savings in other service areas due to improved mental health, lack of isolation etc). I really could cry at the loss of lifelines such as this.

OP posts:
larant · 22/07/2015 12:34

My area has cut lots of voluntary run schemes that were working with young people involved in crime, and had a proven track record of getting them back on the right track. One in particular had been thoroughly evaluated positively, and had some very skilled staff involved. It no longer exists. Council Officers say they know it was doing great work, but they just didn't have the money anymore.

The amount of money different Local Authorities get is deeply unfair.

mollie123 · 22/07/2015 12:41

for a 'balanced' Shock view - here is gransnet's take on it
have to agree that there should be consistency with the amount available to local authorities for provision of services. there should not be winners and losers.

mollie123 · 22/07/2015 12:42
larant · 22/07/2015 12:49

Thanks Mollie. So many local charities have closed where I live, including ones that had been running for 20 plus years, so they presumably did have the skills to apply for grants.

I do hope this is going to change. The need where I live is phenomenal.

dangerrabbit · 22/07/2015 14:09

It's not going to change as long as the tories are in. In fact, it's going to get worse. These things tend to go in cycles. Once the services have been decimated, people will appreciate their value - but it wil be very hard to build back up again what they are so casually destroying. Who knows whether public opinion will sway back towards the idea of there being such a thing as society. If we judge by some of the views shared on this thread, it appears the answer is no.

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