Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Fudging the Figures

The catastrophic state of public finances were revealed today, just in time for Parliament to escape for its summer recess and avoid the embarassing questions surrounding the loss of the nations capital, pensions and collective savings.

Any way, you look at the picture, the view is a bleak one, with one million people now reportedly on part-time working. At the same time people are still failing to grasp the extent of the mess we are in and the equally harsh fact that local councils are in much the same position as the average household, in having to count the pennies very carefully indeed.

Why can't you do 'this' or 'that' people ask me? The answer is that there's no money available to do what everyone asks and we can't get an Ocean Finance loan either! McAfferty's cat, otherwise Gordon Brown has spent all the money and if you are lucky enough to have anything left by the end of this financial year, he'll be coming after that too in the next budget.

I was in London yesterday and the betting is on an April General Election, when you'll have your chance to tell McAfferty to either sling his hook or try and climb out of the hole his prudent fiscal policies and 'Golden Rules' have dug for us all. By then, the true size of the problem will have broken on most people and Government won't be in a state to fudge the figures any further.

This week's Norwich Parliamentary by-election is going to be a revealing test of public opinion. Labour's candidate, Chris Ostrowski, is being treated in hospital for suspected swine flu and perhaps the best possible advice to give him is to stay in bed and watch it happen on TV!


Anonymous said...

I think there was a report in Ipswich Evening Star last week of interest to you Simon.

If I recall about a number of identified towns over reliant on public sector employment who should prepare for a substantial loss of such jobs once the economic reality bites. I think Hastings was in the list.

Mr Friday said...

Mmm. Interesting stuff. What is evern more interesting is the recently-promoted TDC cabinet member who waved through a 2% pay increase for TDC staff which is going to be way above the East Kent (and rest of Kent for that matter) average. Most other Councils will get either nothing or 1% tops.

Same sort of reckless behaviour with taxpayers cash which got the whole country in a mess I think.

DrM. said...

No reckless behaviour. Absolutely the right decision to take in the circumstances given the options available. And as you are not in possesion of the facts and all the salient information I'm afraid that your comment, although welcome, is not relevant to the circumstances here in Thanet.

Mr Friday said...

Sorry, I have only just spotted your reply.

The only salient facts that I would think are important are that the national pay increase is 1% for Council workers and you gave TDC 2%. Why ?

DrM. said...

I'm not sure if you mean me personally in regard to the 2%, as this was a figure that had already been agreed with the Unions a year ago. You may recall the threat of strike action if it was not granted.

The 1% you refer to is I suspect a different figure unrelated to local settlements.

I quite agree with you in regard to limiting the public sector pay awards in the present circumstances. All I would add i sthat saying "No" isn't as easy as one might wish and has far reaching implications for local services.

I might be asking too much if I asked you to trust me to do the right thing given all the information available to me when it comes to making decisions in teh public interest?

Mr Friday said...

I didn't intend to convey any allegations of mistrust so apologies if it came across this way.

I have friends who work at Canterbury Council and they will be accepting a 1% increase with no hint of strike action at all so just think it's a bit odd that TDC staff got more and that the Unions hold so much sway there when they clearly do not at other Councils. For the record the national pay award is likely to be 1% too.

Anyone striking for better terms, conditions or pay in the current financial climate (especially in the public sector) are not going to gain much sympathy from the public so suggest you call their bluff next time !