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South Shields premier political blog

Year end outcomes

with 7 comments

Prezzies for some!

Some in local government positively enjoy this time of year if things have gone well or better than planned. If certain departments control their spending and produce good savings, then, generally speaking, the cheque book comes out. It’s party time, time to flash the cash, get spending!

This is how some of next year’s projects get to see the light of day this year. Take South Tyneside Council, for instance, an extra £2.7m of housing spending is about to take place after savings in the Housing Capital Programme, some six huge projects are to be brought forward and the benefits will be realised sooner.

However, this does leave challenging problems for officers in local government because we have a simply crazy method of calculating need for local government and government departments in this country. So that, if you underspend your budget this year, the illogical thinking concludes that you couldn’t possibly need as much cash next year, and therefore your central allocations risk being reduced. To prevent this happening between now and (financial) year end, councils will be spending every drop of cash that they can to expend their budgets exactly to the penny. Some councils will even invent hare brained schemes just to get rid of the money, you know the types: a survey and count of all the poplar trees in the borough, repainting of double yellow lines for the second time this year, creating non jobs (i.e. temporary Enabling, Procurement, and Diversity Manager) etc. etc.

One might have hoped that savings could just be poured into the councils’ reserves funds and kept for a rainy day (that’s how we might try and plan for our future at home) but no, it has to be spent now!

The next questions of course are:

“Since we are already budgeting to spend £2.7m less next year on Housing – will this have an effect on the demands placed upon us as council tax payers? Will next year’s budgets be revised?”

Watch out for more schemes happening across South Tyneside between now and the end of March, as the council makes sure it gets just as much money from the government to spend at the end of next year.

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Written by curly

December 2, 2008 at 2:16 pm

7 Responses

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  1. What an old cynic you are, Curly.

    The housing schemes have been brought forward because South Tyneside Homes is pressing on with the Decent Homes Standard and they can get even more projects out of the way than originally planned in the current financial year.

    Secondly, Council Tax payers don’t pay for Council housing. The budget is ringfenced.

    As for the next financial year – the money for the Decent Homes Programme has already been secured – its in the tenants interests to get the work done quickly (and properly) so their homes are improved.

    Iain Malcolm

    December 2, 2008 at 3:30 pm

  2. The quicker the bitch is out the better that office and the country will be.
    Roll on the General Election Curly.

    Incidentally I’m amazed to find you’re from my own home town sunny Shields.
    ALL my family live there and I moved to Durham around 10 years ago but still get there every weekend down the beach with my jumper. ( lol )

    Take care mate.


    December 2, 2008 at 4:04 pm

  3. This cynic would still like to know how spending next year’s budget now (because of thrifty work this year,) will affect next year’s council tax. If this, and other projects, will not be needed in the next financial year, presumably you won’t be needing as much cash from me.

    You somehow skipped past the point.


    December 2, 2008 at 5:00 pm

  4. You miss the point Curly. The Housing money is ringfenced for decent homes programme work. It doesn’t come from the Council tax and cannot be used for any other council schemes.

    The money has come from the government – because the contractors have delivered on time, we can bring forward the programme of work.

    Hope this helps!!


    ..and good to see you back!!!

    Like I said thats great for residents and means next year, more schemes will be brought forward until all 19,000 of the social housing owned by the council is brought up to the Gvts Decent Homes Standard.

    Iain Malcolm

    December 2, 2008 at 5:19 pm

  5. I think Rugfish meant to post his comment under the Jacqui Smith thread.

    OK Iain I take your point and concede, however this serves to illustrate a straightforward inadequacy in the press release, it does not make clear where the money came from!

    Mind this does not negate my general point about the poor methodology (used for decades) in calculating local government spending needs assessments.


    December 2, 2008 at 9:14 pm

  6. Oh great, just what we need – councils being forced to spend their money, giving them free reign to waste it and show no element of responsibility to the taxpayer to spend their cash wisely.

    *roll eyes*

    Letters From A Tory

    December 3, 2008 at 9:54 am

  7. They didn’t need hare-brained schemes like counting poplar trees. They discovered that there was going to be some left over from the Expenses Budget so they had two bashes,instead of just one,to celebrate the enforced retirement of Mr Waggot. It is rumoured that they didn’t even raise their glasses to the electorate who brought about this change.


    December 3, 2008 at 2:27 pm

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