Bell’s second point contains about five different lies and evasions. He says:
The second key point is that we are continuing to protect services for the vulnerable despite an Â£85m government cut to our budget. Our budget analysis shows that 71% of all of our savings come from efficiencies, management cuts, increased revenue and changes to contracts. Only 29% have come from reductions to services. This shows how we are prioritising the frontline whilst saving money. We have protected the councilâ€™s youth service, Children’s Centres and care packages for vulnerable adults.
The government cut was Â£55 million. The other Â£30 million is new things the council wants to do (we call that growth) and inflation. All this talk about cuts simply ignores new money such as Â£31 million of New Homes Bonus. Bell’s trick is to only repeat bad news. Good news gets buried. He uses public money and public servants to repeat this nonsense.
When Bell talks about “increased revenue” he is talking about Â£10 million of price rises. These are not cuts. They are simply alternative sources of revenue. Labour has increased parking charges three times in three years and introduced a Â£40 garden tax. It has also decided to levy council tax on people who cannot afford it – Bell could have paid for this with new government flexibility to charge counil tax on empty properties and second homes but Bell just pocketed the cash. Bell fails to mention Â£10 million of cuts to the voluntary sector – council officers would much rather keep money back for salaries for council officers. The council has made very modest management savings – it still employs the same top team it had when it was supposedly 30% bigger. Changes to staff terms and conditions are derisory and leave stafff working 35 hour weeks and taking 27 days holiday from day one.
Bell really is having a laugh.