Thursday, 27 January 2011

What We Told Them

You might have heard that there's a bit of an issue with cuts to NCC's budget coming up. Depending on who you believe, NCC's central government funding has been cut by either 8.9% (government version) or 16.5% (NCC version). The latter is probably nearer the reality because government figures refer to changes in 'spending power' which includes funding from the NHS and other sources.

As the Guardian wrote last week, the story is even less clear when we look at specific services like Supporting People. NCC says it's the government that has cuts Nottingham's budget, the government says the real figure is something like 10%. However, as SP central funding is no longer ring fenced NCC is not obliged to pass on the alleged cut wholesale which it seems to be trying to imply. It is NCC that has decided that SP projects will see the full 45% cut while protecting funding for Community Protection Officers and Childrens Centres.

This decision not to make any cuts to the CPO budget has been sold to us on the basis that we told NCC that we didn't want them to be cut in the answer to their surveys. I was a little sceptical about this because NCC doesn't have a particularly happy history of carrying out consultations fairly. Well, now we can see what they mean because the results of the budget consultations have been published.

So the headline findings of the first survey are summed up in this short extract -

"For each service a mean average has been calculated out of 5. The top 5 services rated most important by respondents are:

1. Tackling crime and anti social behaviour (4.3 out of 5)

2. Refuse collection (4.2 out of 5)

3. Services for elderly and vulnerable people (4.2 out of 5)

4. Child protection (4.1 out of 5)

5. Public transport (4.0 out of 5)"

So yes,  'tackling crime and antisocial behaviour' did get the highest average rating of 4.3/5 which I suppose does support retaining all funding for CPOs theoretically. But 'services for disabled and vulnerable' scored 4.2, a mere 0.1 percentage points less yet Supporting People gets a 45% cut. How does NCC square that?

The fact is that you could probably make a pretty convincing case for protecting just about any council service you care to pick so surely no one service should be immune to seeing cuts passed on. It seems pretty clear to me that the cuts have their own ideological element and NCC has always liked it's men in uniform.

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