I said in my previous post that I would be commenting on the document ‘50 ways to save’, sent to councils by the Department for Communities and Local Government. The document contains some suggestions that are, to be frank, blindingly obvious. If a council wasn’t doing these things, you’d have to wonder why!
The no-brainers include….
Suggestion three: ‘Use transparency to cut waste’ – all councils have to publish details of spending over £500. We publish ours on our website.
Suggestion four: ‘Tackle duplicate payments’ – our financial system automatically flags up duplicate invoice numbers. (I accept that we also have to spot invoices where the values are so low that they are not worth collecting.)
Suggestion six: ‘Special spending controls’ – like most organisations, the Council has different spending authorisation limits in place, depending on the nature of the transaction and the level of a person’s seniority.
Suggestion seven: ‘Tackle fraud’ – well, you’re hardly going to ignore it, are you?! We take a zero tolerance approach to fraud and corruption, and have policies, procedures and an Anti-Fraud Working Group to make sure everyone operates honestly.
Suggestion eight: ‘Claw back money from benefit cheats’ – again, you’re not likely to shrug your shoulders and let them get away with it! We have a robust recovery procedure. Additional penalties are sometimes imposed requiring benefit cheats to repay either 30% or 50% above the amount they claimed.
Suggestion 19: ‘Close subsidised council canteens’ – what is this, the 1970s?! Needless to say, we don’t operate a subsidised café or restaurant. Relish, the new Council House eatery, is run by a private company on a commercial basis. It’s just opened – go check it out.
Suggestion 25: ‘Introduce a recruitment freeze’ – most organisations, when they’re shedding hundreds of jobs, stop hiring new people!
Suggestion 33: ‘Stop spending money on commercial lobbyists’ – who ever started doing this?! As far as I know, Derby has never spent money on lobbyists or public affairs consultants.
Suggestion 37: ‘Cease funding ‘sock puppets’ and fake charities’ – again, in this day and age, do any councils really fund lobbying or political campaigning groups? We only provide funding to charitable organisations to provide specific services for the people of Derby.
Suggestion 40: ‘Reduce first class travel’ – we’ve gone further than that, we’ve stopped it altogether and did so years ago. Although we can’t guarantee that someone won’t do a George Osborne and sneak into a first class carriage…
In the next post, I will look at some of the bigger ideas on the list, and what we’re doing to address them.