Anyone who follows the goings-on at County Hall will know that they can always rely on Labour councillor, Geoff Lumley to keep the current administration in check.
With the proposed budget options for 2010 being discussed at the Overview & Scrutiny Committee next Monday evening, Cllr Lumley asks “How on earth has the current IW Council budget blackhole nearly doubled in just 2 months? From £3.5 million, to £6.5 million. And why are the leadership no longer taking successful ‘management action …..to reduce spend in identified pressure areas’ ?”+
For the last three years, Cllr Lumley has gone to the trouble of presenting opposition budgets, an admirable given the number of labour councillors has remained so low.
It was during his prep for this year’s alternative budget that he discovered the massive increase in the budget gap.
At the Cabinet meeting in December, the figures presented showed a projected deficit of £3,479,000 to year end. Just two months later, the figure projected for 2010/11 shows the budget gaps will be £6,533,000.
“Council finances are out of control”
Cllr Lumley said, “At the December Cabinet, meeting we were told that although there were in year financial pressures they would, as you would expect, manage them through to a balance. The presentation on Monday tells us that they expect this years overspend to amount to £6.5m next year, suggesting to me that Council finances are out of control.
“£3.5 million of this overspend is related to Adult Social Care and Learning Disabilities Services, which were projected to overspend by just £1.2 million in December. This is a three-fold increase in less than a quarter. And in a Kafka-esque move later on in the Scrutiny presentation the Council leadership propose to cut back Adult Care Services next year by – yes, you guessed it, £3.5 million. It beggars belief.”
“This is gross mis-management of the Council’s finances”
“Quite frankly I expected more of a political leadership so keen to sell itself as financially competent. This is gross mis-management of the Council’s finances and the people to suffer will be those who can ill-afford it. If they aren’t up to the job perhaps they should step aside and let others who could do the job ?”
Ref: +(Sources: Cabinet report 8.12.09, ‘Update on the Overall Financial Position’ – PDF).