Council blows big bucks, again.

Having spent the better part of £3million (and countless officer hours) on procuring a contract with Capita group which they claim will save the council £1billion over 10 years (yet are unable to give any solid indication of how it will save them the £100million a year) we hear that Birmingham City Council has blown nearly half a million on restoring a clock in Sutton Coldfield. This, and other ‘prestige’ projects are sucking cash out of the council budgets. Sutton, the most affluent area in Birmingham, has taken 23% of council capital expenditure whilst social projects in other areas that would greatly improve the lives of many citizens have been scrapped due to lack of cash.

5 Comments so far

  1. bob (unregistered) on March 2nd, 2006 @ 6:44 pm

    and every few years you hear a story about Sutton wanting to become independent from Brum. I wonder if the council would be better off by letting Sutton go, thereby saving all that expenditure. Or would they lose so much in council tax from all those 5 bed detatched houses?

  2. Stephen Booth (unregistered) on March 2nd, 2006 @ 8:57 pm

    As I recall total expenditure on Sutton is more than the income from Council Tax from Sutton. I suspect of more concern would be the drop in the grant from central government would be more of a worry.

    Most funding to local givernment comes from general taxation, via central government, rather than council tax and business rates. In rough desending order, for most councils, it goes something like: Central Government Grant; Business Rates; Services to other Authorities; Council Tax; Commercial Services. Services to other authorities is mostly things like what Social Services do on behalf of the Police, NHS and other councils. Obviously a council might sell services to a council but also buy other services back so overall they might make some money, lose some money or break more or less even on such services. Commercial Services is things like income from leisure centres, performance venues, licensing fees &c. Most comercial services break even or make a small profit, leisure centres and venues will typically use profits from popular (and therefore profitable) events/services to subsidise events/services that are deemed to be socially valuable (so profits from renting out squash courts might pay for free swimming lessons for disadvantaged kids).

    Obviously the exact order will vary from council to council and, importantly, the size of the central government grant is very much at the whim of the government of the day. This is why many Tory councils were able to have a zero poll tax whilst it was much higher in Labour seats. The Thatcher and Major governments upped the grant in some areas (those where they wanted to cement their hold) and cut it in others (where they wanted to cut into Labour’s support).

  3. John Hemming (unregistered) on March 2nd, 2006 @ 9:42 pm

    There is no way Sutton has had 23% of capital spend. My own ward committee (in which you live) has a budget in excess of £400K so Sutton concentrating on their Town Hall is an issue for them and their voters.

    I will defend their right to spend their own budget on the projects they wish to spend it on.
    Yes we have ensured that each ward has some funds (as was the case under Labour), but it is wrong to claim there has been any substantial redirection of funding.

  4. Stephen Booth (unregistered) on March 2nd, 2006 @ 9:54 pm

    The 23% figure is from the article linked from this entry. It represents total spend in Sutton, not just the half million spent on the clock.

    Is that £400k capital spend or total?

  5. John Hemming (unregistered) on March 3rd, 2006 @ 2:52 pm

    No idea where he is getting his figures from.

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