Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Lincolnshire County UNISON ask some tough questions about the budget

The Linclonshire County UNISON branch recently had a branch committee where two senior finance managers attended to explain the financial situation at the council. Knowing they were coming the branch prepared a number of very interesting questions. The branch had many questions and 16 of key ones are outlined below. Page numbers refer to the 2008/09 Statement of Accounts 2008/09, available on the County Council website here.

Congratulations to the Lincolnshire County branch who have shown they are not prepared to accept cuts without asking some very searching questions of their council. They have performed a public service on behalf the people of Lincolnshire ensuring the report is put under proper scrutiny.


1. General reserves increased by £2m in 08/09 (p20). Was this planned, or a budget underspend, and what are the future expectations for reserves.

2. Earmarked reserves stand at £60m (p55). What is represented by the major additions during 08/09, Other Services (up from £3.5m to £11.2m) and Waste Disposal (up from £6.2m to £14.1)?

3. When is the protocol for each earmarked reserve reviewed, and can we be supplied with copies?

4. Are there any earmarked capital reserves that can now be “unearmarked” due to changed plans and priorities? If so, are there any other earmarked capital reserves that are using revenue funds that could be released by transferring the now freed up capital reserves?


5. The Council is revising its provision for pay inflation in 09/10 down from 2.5% to 0.0%. What will be the budgetary implications of any nationally agreed pay awards next year?

6. Figures for salaries over £50,000 (p30) show an increase from 112 to 162 (excluding schools), or 43%. Is it realistic to accept that level of increase in one year and propose a pay freeze in another?

Consultants and Agency Staff

7. Figures given in response to Unison’s FOI request show a spend in 08/09 of £788,000 on consultants and £3.8m on agency staff. These figures are low in comparison to other authorities – what definition has the county council used, in particular for “consultants”?

8. Are elements of commissioned services that are actually consultancy captured under the correct heading – eg Mouchel consultancy time paid above the core contract?

9. Can the council break down the agency worker and consultant costs in to those incurred on the capital and revue accounts?

10. Can LCC differentiate between its permanent and non-permanent staffing costs, breaking the latter down into agency, fixed-term and consultant?

11. What are the instances of consultants replacing established posts over a period of continuous time, eg Diversity Manager?

12. What approval is required by the Resourcing Board for the engagement of consultants.

Issues for the 2010/2011 budget

13. Implications of 0.0% inflation assumption: are there contracts which have different inflationary increases built in?

14. Capital programme: is any direct contribution from revenue expected, other than debt charges? In respect of these, will refinancing be examined to release revenue benefits?

15. What impact will proposals for residential care of older people have on the budget?

16. Council tax: will the Council provide models showing the implications of different Council Tax increases on services? Suggest at 1%, 2% and 3% council tax increase. Increases in council tax to be shown as an increase per week to each band of household.

No comments:

Post a Comment