The Department for Communities and Local Government, led by our esteemed Secretary of State, the Rt Hon Eric Pickles MP, has produced a list of 50 ways that councils can save money. The list is certainly very long; I hope the civil servants didn’t spend too much time and public money compiling it?!
Clearly, all we have to do now is follow this list, put all 50 points into practice and – hey presto! – our financial problems will be solved.
Or maybe not. Many of the 50 things on the list we are doing already; the phrase ‘teaching grandma to suck eggs’ springs to mind. Other suggestions on the list are of arguable value; some probably wouldn’t save any money, others would unfairly marginalise groups in our city, while others would involve a huge risk for the Council.
Let me be clear: I am absolutely committed to saving money wherever and whenever I can. As I’ve discussed on this blog before, I firmly believe that the Council can make better use of its assets, and I intend to make them ‘sweat’. And I have challenged all parts of the Council to look at how they work and say, ‘could we do this better?’
But receiving this kind of list from the government is a bitter pill to swallow – particularly when it seems to have been written to show off how great the DCLG is compared to the rest of us.
Over the next few days I will be looking at some of the suggestions on the list and telling you what we’re doing already, as we grapple with cuts in government funding that make your eyes water.