Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Heather Wakefield's blog - Unkind Cuts

Heather Wakefield, UNISON's National Secretary for Local Government has written about the "unkind cuts" many councils are inflicting across the country. You can find it here

Heather argues that it is the most vulnerable in our communities that are being made to pay for the ludicrous decision many councils have taken to freeze council tax. She also gives her own take on what is happening in Nottinghamshire.

One paragraph of her piece gives some really interesting information about council reserves. It is reproduced below.

"Even more interesting is the fact that in every year from 2003/04 to 2007/08, English councils have budgeted on the basis that they will need to draw on their reserves in order to balance their books. However, when the outturn figures have been published, they have actually added to them – as we’ve seen above. In 2007/08, councils in England forecast a reduction of £890m in reserves, but in fact, they increased them by £1.5bn."

Some councils may have real fiancial problems, but many of them have been building up reserves for years and they have no need to cut vital services, other than for idealogical reasons. The East Midlands region of UNISON has been collating information on council reserves and we will be publishing our findings soon - and in many cases we've identified that councils have high levels of reserves.

Watch this space.

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