Budget 'in crisis'

Coun Joe Cooney

Coun Joe Cooney

First published in Pendle Burnley and Pendle Citizen: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

SENIOR Pendle councillors have warned that the council’s finances are in a ‘catastrophic’ condition and that they are having to consider job cuts and adding fees to services to make ends meet.

The council have to save £1.2million this year, followed by £1m the year after and another £1m the year after that. Between 2010 and 2017, Pendle Council’s annual budget has been cut from £17.5m to £11m.

Leader Joe Cooney said that the council is having to consider all the options in which they could potentially make savings.

He said: “We’re talking to staff to see if they’d like to consider options including reducing their hours, taking voluntary redundancy or flexible retirement. We want to avoid any compulsory redundancies.”

Coun Cooney said that he could not confirm how many jobs were at risk but said redundancy is ‘an absolute last resort’.

But since 2010, staff levels have already gone down from 445 to 285.

He added: “We are considering the charges we make for services.

“Obviously, there are certain things we cannot charge for and that have to be done, but we are looking at every one of our services to see which we could use to generate income.”

A spokesperson for the council said that although as yet, no services have been identified of incurring charges but that services such as the ACE centre being run by a different body and the borough’s leisure services, which are subsidised by £2m a year, being transferred elsewhere or increasing charges.

The council said it was keen to point out that these are still possibilities at this stage.

Deputy council leader Tony Greaves said: “We are in a catastrophic position. Taking account of inflation, Pendle’s estimated annual budget for services is being slashed by half.

This is devastating and the shortfall cannot be covered by staff cuts and increases in council tax as the increase would be huge.

“We want to continue to provide the same level of services to our residents but this continued financial squeeze means that we’re again faced with taking some tough decisions.”

Coun Cooney is advising residents to get in touch with him with ideas for cost saving measures by emailing joseph.cooney@pendle.co.uk.

Comments (8)

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8:37pm Fri 1 Aug 14

Ann Kerrigan, Horsfield Councillor says...

Here is one idea, how about asking the Government to stop cutting Local Government services, making local people redundant and ruining our local economy. How about asking the Government to start taxing richer people and richer businesses more so that our local economy isn't ruined. Companies get away with around £120 billion of tax avoidance every year which is equivalent to £200 million each year for Pendle. That would be a good start.
Here is one idea, how about asking the Government to stop cutting Local Government services, making local people redundant and ruining our local economy. How about asking the Government to start taxing richer people and richer businesses more so that our local economy isn't ruined. Companies get away with around £120 billion of tax avoidance every year which is equivalent to £200 million each year for Pendle. That would be a good start. Ann Kerrigan, Horsfield Councillor
  • Score: 5

9:22am Sat 2 Aug 14

wet n windy says...

Either in going mad or only a few months ago the council were patting themselves on the back for not increasing the council tax....
I actually took Cllr Cooneys suggestion last year to look at accounts and make recommendations. The issue is when you read the accounts they are unfathomable - as nearly everything is outsourced all the you see in the expenditure entries are payments to the outsourced suppliers eg Capita, you can't actually perform any sort of analysis on this. So here is step 1 let's push back on our outsourced suppliers and ask them to find 5% efficiencies every single year.....this is what most customers ask from their suppliers. Step 2 let's have some transparency on what actually goes into these outsourced costs, eg how much is payroll, how much is admin, how much is travel etc.... Then work this put per capita and compare to other councils to see if we are getting a good deal. Step 3 Let's work with other councils and the LEA etc to work on economies of scale, ie use your purchasing size to drive costs down.
When you've tried these basic approaches and can't find something, then there is the time to get worried. Can you confirm that this activity has already been undertaken and drawn zero ? I'd be interested in seeing the analysis if it has been....
Either in going mad or only a few months ago the council were patting themselves on the back for not increasing the council tax.... I actually took Cllr Cooneys suggestion last year to look at accounts and make recommendations. The issue is when you read the accounts they are unfathomable - as nearly everything is outsourced all the you see in the expenditure entries are payments to the outsourced suppliers eg Capita, you can't actually perform any sort of analysis on this. So here is step 1 let's push back on our outsourced suppliers and ask them to find 5% efficiencies every single year.....this is what most customers ask from their suppliers. Step 2 let's have some transparency on what actually goes into these outsourced costs, eg how much is payroll, how much is admin, how much is travel etc.... Then work this put per capita and compare to other councils to see if we are getting a good deal. Step 3 Let's work with other councils and the LEA etc to work on economies of scale, ie use your purchasing size to drive costs down. When you've tried these basic approaches and can't find something, then there is the time to get worried. Can you confirm that this activity has already been undertaken and drawn zero ? I'd be interested in seeing the analysis if it has been.... wet n windy
  • Score: 1

9:24am Sat 2 Aug 14

wet n windy says...

I thought the govt were trying to devolve spending to local councils ?
I thought the govt were trying to devolve spending to local councils ? wet n windy
  • Score: 1

8:34pm Sat 2 Aug 14

Ann Kerrigan, Horsfield Councillor says...

Look at the difference in funding from Central Govt for councils in the South of England and those in the North West.
Look at the difference in funding from Central Govt for councils in the South of England and those in the North West. Ann Kerrigan, Horsfield Councillor
  • Score: 1

9:33am Sun 3 Aug 14

David Whipp says...

With a staffing cut of well over a third (36%), efficiency savings are running at well in excess of 5% pa. Some of these cuts have reduced the level of services provided to residents, but the vast majority of services have been kept going by using the council's savings; This year, the council budget assumes taking about £2 million out of the bank to keep things going.

Although the Conservative MP for Pendle would like to sweep everything under the carpet before next year's general election, it's getting to the point where drastic reductions will be inevitable as the savings run out.

I mention the MP, as he could have been more energetic fighting Pendle's corner; stopping the huge cuts in government grants which have hit Pendle harder than most (our borough is amongst a handful of authorities amongst the worst hit).

Concerted action by councillors and council chiefs has gained a 'temporary' £1 million 'Efficiency Support Grant' from the government. Though this is a fraction of the money lost to the area, it is helping to delay cuts and is welcome. Less welcome is that this pot of funding is being used as blackmail to prevent the borough council putting its council tax up. (To suit Tory election prospects.)

But that is a deceit; Pendle Council has pushed services (public toilets being just the start) onto parish and town councils. For many people in Pendle, the Conservative claim of 'no increase in Council Tax' is just a big lie.

Together with my colleagues, I will fight to keep services and facilities. For over a third of a century as a councillor I've fought to provide facilities and better services for the residents I represent. I'll do my utmost to keep them going now.
With a staffing cut of well over a third (36%), efficiency savings are running at well in excess of 5% pa. Some of these cuts have reduced the level of services provided to residents, but the vast majority of services have been kept going by using the council's savings; This year, the council budget assumes taking about £2 million out of the bank to keep things going. Although the Conservative MP for Pendle would like to sweep everything under the carpet before next year's general election, it's getting to the point where drastic reductions will be inevitable as the savings run out. I mention the MP, as he could have been more energetic fighting Pendle's corner; stopping the huge cuts in government grants which have hit Pendle harder than most (our borough is amongst a handful of authorities amongst the worst hit). Concerted action by councillors and council chiefs has gained a 'temporary' £1 million 'Efficiency Support Grant' from the government. Though this is a fraction of the money lost to the area, it is helping to delay cuts and is welcome. Less welcome is that this pot of funding is being used as blackmail to prevent the borough council putting its council tax up. (To suit Tory election prospects.) But that is a deceit; Pendle Council has pushed services (public toilets being just the start) onto parish and town councils. For many people in Pendle, the Conservative claim of 'no increase in Council Tax' is just a big lie. Together with my colleagues, I will fight to keep services and facilities. For over a third of a century as a councillor I've fought to provide facilities and better services for the residents I represent. I'll do my utmost to keep them going now. David Whipp
  • Score: 2

8:51am Mon 4 Aug 14

Pendlesider says...

wet n windy wrote:
Either in going mad or only a few months ago the council were patting themselves on the back for not increasing the council tax....
I actually took Cllr Cooneys suggestion last year to look at accounts and make recommendations. The issue is when you read the accounts they are unfathomable - as nearly everything is outsourced all the you see in the expenditure entries are payments to the outsourced suppliers eg Capita, you can't actually perform any sort of analysis on this. So here is step 1 let's push back on our outsourced suppliers and ask them to find 5% efficiencies every single year.....this is what most customers ask from their suppliers. Step 2 let's have some transparency on what actually goes into these outsourced costs, eg how much is payroll, how much is admin, how much is travel etc.... Then work this put per capita and compare to other councils to see if we are getting a good deal. Step 3 Let's work with other councils and the LEA etc to work on economies of scale, ie use your purchasing size to drive costs down.
When you've tried these basic approaches and can't find something, then there is the time to get worried. Can you confirm that this activity has already been undertaken and drawn zero ? I'd be interested in seeing the analysis if it has been....
As far as I'm aware the issue of value for money from outsourced agencies/companies was put before Pendle council's overview and scrutiny committee (O&SC) a while back but wasn't accepted. This needs looking at again so anyone can contact the (O&SC) on...
.
telephone 01282 661607 or email scrutiny@pendle.gov.
uk
[quote][p][bold]wet n windy[/bold] wrote: Either in going mad or only a few months ago the council were patting themselves on the back for not increasing the council tax.... I actually took Cllr Cooneys suggestion last year to look at accounts and make recommendations. The issue is when you read the accounts they are unfathomable - as nearly everything is outsourced all the you see in the expenditure entries are payments to the outsourced suppliers eg Capita, you can't actually perform any sort of analysis on this. So here is step 1 let's push back on our outsourced suppliers and ask them to find 5% efficiencies every single year.....this is what most customers ask from their suppliers. Step 2 let's have some transparency on what actually goes into these outsourced costs, eg how much is payroll, how much is admin, how much is travel etc.... Then work this put per capita and compare to other councils to see if we are getting a good deal. Step 3 Let's work with other councils and the LEA etc to work on economies of scale, ie use your purchasing size to drive costs down. When you've tried these basic approaches and can't find something, then there is the time to get worried. Can you confirm that this activity has already been undertaken and drawn zero ? I'd be interested in seeing the analysis if it has been....[/p][/quote]As far as I'm aware the issue of value for money from outsourced agencies/companies was put before Pendle council's overview and scrutiny committee (O&SC) a while back but wasn't accepted. This needs looking at again so anyone can contact the (O&SC) on... . telephone 01282 661607 or email scrutiny@pendle.gov. uk Pendlesider
  • Score: 0

11:55am Mon 4 Aug 14

wet n windy says...

David Whipp wrote:
With a staffing cut of well over a third (36%), efficiency savings are running at well in excess of 5% pa. Some of these cuts have reduced the level of services provided to residents, but the vast majority of services have been kept going by using the council's savings; This year, the council budget assumes taking about £2 million out of the bank to keep things going.

Although the Conservative MP for Pendle would like to sweep everything under the carpet before next year's general election, it's getting to the point where drastic reductions will be inevitable as the savings run out.

I mention the MP, as he could have been more energetic fighting Pendle's corner; stopping the huge cuts in government grants which have hit Pendle harder than most (our borough is amongst a handful of authorities amongst the worst hit).

Concerted action by councillors and council chiefs has gained a 'temporary' £1 million 'Efficiency Support Grant' from the government. Though this is a fraction of the money lost to the area, it is helping to delay cuts and is welcome. Less welcome is that this pot of funding is being used as blackmail to prevent the borough council putting its council tax up. (To suit Tory election prospects.)

But that is a deceit; Pendle Council has pushed services (public toilets being just the start) onto parish and town councils. For many people in Pendle, the Conservative claim of 'no increase in Council Tax' is just a big lie.

Together with my colleagues, I will fight to keep services and facilities. For over a third of a century as a councillor I've fought to provide facilities and better services for the residents I represent. I'll do my utmost to keep them going now.
Sorry Cllr Whipp but your response only partially answers my question and in my opinion you are letting the politics get in the way of doing the right thing.....
Whilst I think a 36% reduction is impressive. from what I could see the majority of expenditure by the council is to outsourced providers. 5-10% here probably massively outweighs 36% & 5% reduction in the directly controlled spend. Thanks Pendlesider for the suggestion, but I don't think it should be down to me to call this into a scrutiny committee to look at. This is everyday council business, and if the council doesn't think so then this is part of the problem.
We hear of plenty of mid contract renegotiations in the press and this should be on the table. If the council aren't willing to take this step and aren't willing to get details on spend that is hidden inside the outsourcing I'm afraid I don't see how we can help. I do however have 1 suggestion - lets stop this "improvement" on the M65 that is going on at the moment. I know its not joined up the funding, but a stance should be made if its that desperate !
[quote][p][bold]David Whipp[/bold] wrote: With a staffing cut of well over a third (36%), efficiency savings are running at well in excess of 5% pa. Some of these cuts have reduced the level of services provided to residents, but the vast majority of services have been kept going by using the council's savings; This year, the council budget assumes taking about £2 million out of the bank to keep things going. Although the Conservative MP for Pendle would like to sweep everything under the carpet before next year's general election, it's getting to the point where drastic reductions will be inevitable as the savings run out. I mention the MP, as he could have been more energetic fighting Pendle's corner; stopping the huge cuts in government grants which have hit Pendle harder than most (our borough is amongst a handful of authorities amongst the worst hit). Concerted action by councillors and council chiefs has gained a 'temporary' £1 million 'Efficiency Support Grant' from the government. Though this is a fraction of the money lost to the area, it is helping to delay cuts and is welcome. Less welcome is that this pot of funding is being used as blackmail to prevent the borough council putting its council tax up. (To suit Tory election prospects.) But that is a deceit; Pendle Council has pushed services (public toilets being just the start) onto parish and town councils. For many people in Pendle, the Conservative claim of 'no increase in Council Tax' is just a big lie. Together with my colleagues, I will fight to keep services and facilities. For over a third of a century as a councillor I've fought to provide facilities and better services for the residents I represent. I'll do my utmost to keep them going now.[/p][/quote]Sorry Cllr Whipp but your response only partially answers my question and in my opinion you are letting the politics get in the way of doing the right thing..... Whilst I think a 36% reduction is impressive. from what I could see the majority of expenditure by the council is to outsourced providers. 5-10% here probably massively outweighs 36% & 5% reduction in the directly controlled spend. Thanks Pendlesider for the suggestion, but I don't think it should be down to me to call this into a scrutiny committee to look at. This is everyday council business, and if the council doesn't think so then this is part of the problem. We hear of plenty of mid contract renegotiations in the press and this should be on the table. If the council aren't willing to take this step and aren't willing to get details on spend that is hidden inside the outsourcing I'm afraid I don't see how we can help. I do however have 1 suggestion - lets stop this "improvement" on the M65 that is going on at the moment. I know its not joined up the funding, but a stance should be made if its that desperate ! wet n windy
  • Score: 0

4:37pm Mon 4 Aug 14

ROBERTSLUMDWELLER123 says...

Ann Kerrigan, Horsfield Councillor wrote:
Look at the difference in funding from Central Govt for councils in the South of England and those in the North West.
when the Government see the stupid white Elephant money pit schemes that have been undertaken by Nelson council are you surprised at the Government cut backs?? sell the ACE Centre(if you can).close job centre and move it over to number 1 market st that way at least it will have the space occupied.and not just by charity shops
[quote][p][bold]Ann Kerrigan, Horsfield Councillor[/bold] wrote: Look at the difference in funding from Central Govt for councils in the South of England and those in the North West.[/p][/quote]when the Government see the stupid white Elephant money pit schemes that have been undertaken by Nelson council are you surprised at the Government cut backs?? sell the ACE Centre(if you can).close job centre and move it over to number 1 market st that way at least it will have the space occupied.and not just by charity shops ROBERTSLUMDWELLER123
  • Score: 1

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