Monday, June 07, 2010

Live in West Lothian? Respond to Council's cuts consultation by 30th June

Ok, so West Lothian Council aren't calling them cuts, they're calling them tough choices, or savings. The growing lexicon of budget reduction will rarely include the C-word, preferring its more comforting sounding options.

The public aren't stupid. We know that the country is in an economic fix that can't be wished away. We know that unless we take action to reduce the deficit, we'll be in big trouble.

Nick Clegg earlier this year compared and contrasted what's happened in Greece with the way Canada dealt with its budget deficit in the 90s, by properly consulting with the people, asking for their ideas on cutting public spending. He said:

At that time, Canada had an annual budget deficit a tenth the size of its economy…
Almost as large as the UK’s is today.
Rather than making cuts behind closed doors, the Liberal Government realised that if people were to understand what needed to be done they had to talk to them.
They held a massive consultation.
About every last line of public spending.
Asking the people who really knew: what to cut and what to protect.
And they managed to eliminate that vast deficit in four years…
Taking the people with them.

Liberal Democrats will follow Canada’s lead.

West Lothian Council seem to be taking the Canadian experience to heart by asking local residents to take part in a consultation exercise, using a document called Tough Choices as its basis, as to how they should reduce spending. They are asking every single household to submit suggestions and responses to the officers' proposals.

I intend to look at this in more detail, but I wanted to make sure that you were all aware of this and had enough time to make your submission by the closing date of 30th June.

There are sections for every department, but my concern is that every single budget is bound to be cut over the next 3 years. Why do I think that? Because the figure for the projected budget is the same as this year's - which has to be a cut by the rate of inflation, currently at 3.5%.

It makes me wonder whether the SNP Government at Holyrood's Council Tax freeze over the past 3 years has been sensible. I'm also very concerned that they've decided to postpone cuts in the Scottish budget until after the elections next year. Some might say that was a cynical move, because I don't believe that they can't find anything to save money on this year.

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