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Tory 'Flagship' Council in Financial Difficulties

November 13, 2015 12:23 AM
Originally published by South Central Region Liberal Democrats
On Tuesday Conservative controlled Bucks County Council announced a freeze on non-essential spending.

It stated that 'The Council is taking decisive action to address a possible budget shortfall of almost £6m by March 2016, mainly due to increasing demand for social care for both adults and children'
Conservative Leader Martin Tett said "The main catalyst for our potential overspend is the significant increase in demand on services for vulnerable adults and children. There is little we can do about this because we have to give priority to safeguarding our old and our young."
Avril Davies, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group on Bucks County Council says it is unfair to blame this weeks action on the neediest people in our community.
Avril Davies

Avril Davies, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group on Bucks County Council says "It is unfair to blame this weeks action on the neediest people in our community."

This year's budget was set with a high risk of being unable to be achieved. In February I warned that the County was not just taking the risk of failing to make savings, and by not doing so, risking not delivering services at all. Cabinet was told on Monday the projected overspend could run as high as £10M, or half the County's reserves.
The budget was filled with unspecified savings still 'to be found', failure to deal with the increase need for social care, and new duties required by the government.
The county has resources, but the hard choices on where to spend them were ducked until another day.
Instead this year the council has been embroiled in significant and unproven ie risky organisational change. It has been difficult for our staff to stay focussed on delivering their core business. Not all parts of the council have been able to fit in to the new organisational structure at the same pace, and many jobs, not only hard to find children's social workers, have been filled with expensive consultants and agency staff.

The Leader is right to finally prioritise services for the most needy, and to review the spend on interim and agency staff as a matter of urgency, but instead of looking to scapegoat others, he has to address the shortcomings of his own budget and his own organisation.
Avril Davies
Leader of the Liberal Democrats
Bucks County Council
acdavies@buckscc.gov.uk