Day 76 – Council Tax Set To Soar

The email below was received yesterday in response to a question asked some time ago by a local taxpayer whose children are no longer in the school system.

So, if the only shortfall in funding is £30M (ie that which has been planned for without any detailed costings), Council Tax is set rise by 3.6% until capital receipts or cost savings had been obtained in order to reduce it again.

Three obvious points arise here:

1. They haven’t done any detailed costings, so how do they know that our maximum borrowing will be £30M. For goodness sake, this is like us as taxpayers writing a blank cheque to cover a reorganisation that doesn’t need to happen!

2. Capital receipts? BSF projects have been roundly criticised by independent watchdogs for going over budget, employing too many consultants, and taking too long to deliver…capital receipts (should they be realised) will be swallowed up by these extra, hidden and unforeseen costs.

3. Cost savings? Oh, they mean job cuts for both teachers and support staff.

They also think they are going to cherry pick the “best” teachers and support staff. Well, the news on that is that in any reorganisation SMS has heard of or been involved with, the “best” staff up and leave because they are eminently employable elsewhere. Sounds like a good plan then…not.

So, a message for local taxpayers even if you don’t have children in the system…TAKE ACTION to stop this damaging YOUR pocket.

———————————————————————————————————

From: School Organisation Consultations
To: (removed)
Sent: Tuesday, July 14, 2009 8:25 AM
Subject: RE: Questions on Consultation to 2 Tier

Thank you for your question concerning the potential cost of creating primary schools if the Council decides to move to a two tier system, and apologies for the delay in responding.

The worst case scenario stated of £30m would require the Council to borrow under the Prudential Borrowing regime – this allows Council’s to borrow to fund capital investment. If the cost of borrowing was funded by Council Tax this would equate to a 3.6% increase in the level of Council Tax. This could, however, be offset by any savings which arise as a result of the School Organisation Review.

Regards

Joan Wheeler
BSF Project Officer

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7 Responses to Day 76 – Council Tax Set To Soar

  1. William says:

    So this works out at around 9p extra a week on an avarage coucnil tax (although would be a little less as the council tax also pays for police, fire etc)

    Although the council did promise tax payers that there would be no increase in council tax and that it would go down, post 1st April.

    The new CEO of the Borough was the director of finacnce so I wonder if the new finance man will be under considerable pressure to perform – our very own local Gordon Brown Vs Alistair Darling situation.

    I also wonder if other services would be reduced to cover any cost – Do I see a SOWBC campaign (Save Our Weekly Bin Collection) in the distance.

  2. Jonathan Parsons says:

    hi all

    AND as i can not get past the mayors cencorship on his blog , sorry i mean i am hogging his blog, but it seems our mayor is not being totaly honist with the facts i have brorowed a bit from his blog for here but as seems he is not reading all the press releases, or has he benn told a diferant information to the rest of us comments please

    M S Says:

    July 15th, 2009 at 3:48 am
    The number of tiers isn’t what’s wrong with the system.

    Even if two tiers is “better” in some way, is it better enough to be worth many millions of pounds?

    That money should not be spent until there has been a debate, not just about three and two tiers, but about other ways in which the cost of that conversion could be invested in education, possibly to greater effect.

    mayor Says:

    July 15th, 2009 at 4:44 am
    The Government has allocated £340 million to Bedford under the Building Schools for the Future. This would be enough to build or modernise all our upper schools. Despite what may have been said in some quarters I am certain that no more than a small part of this will be available if we maintain status quo. It will be for the council to decide on the relative importance of the issues.

  3. Michael Headley says:

    I think William is right to highlight the potential impact on other services.

    The latest budget projections I have seen are for an increase in council tax requirement of £8.1m from now through to 2012/13 if no action is taken. That’s 22% increase in council tax overall (roughly 7% a year). Now there is no way the council can raise council tax by that much – so we have to be looking at efficiency savings/cuts anyway.

    It’s still quite early in the current financial year, but that’s looking like having an overspend of possibly £3m, some of which will have to continue into future years.

    So, this is the background BEFORE we start adding in any school organisation costs.

    The 3.6% increase in council tax mentioned for primary schools would be £2.5m.

    If we think that there is no room for an EXTRA 3.6% council tax rise – the only way to do it would be to make a further £2.5m worth of cuts in other services ON TOP OF those that would have been needed anyway.

    I just find it hard to understand how this can be afforded in the current economic climate.

    P.S. I think 3.6% increase would be 90p a week.

    • William says:

      Just a very quick question – if the 2 tier votes goes to full council will the lib dems have a whip runing and if so will it be of the three line variety?

      How do you also feel Nicky Attenborough and sue Oliver will approach it?

  4. Leodis says:

    As Mr Headley rightly points out the 3.6% increase is IN ADDITION to any other potential need to raise finance for things like adult services, social services, refuse collection, libraries etc. etc. ALL of which will need to be cut if the now guaranteed cuts (see Mr Mandelson’s comments yesterday)from central government grants. After all they only spoke of police, health and education (only then are schools mentioned in terms of revenue budgets – capital is a different matter!)

    No government is going to allow 7% increases in local council tax so the only way the money will be found is through the mythical ‘efficiency savings’ that can miraculously be found whenever public spending needs reducing. That’s cuts in public services to the layman!

    Well considering we are still embroiled in the worst financial crisis for more than a generation I have a sneaking suspicion that we are going to see the mother of all ‘efficiency savings’ over this next decade.

    I can’t help thinking embarking on such a massive change in system in such unprecedented financial circumstances might be just a little naive…and I know I’m not alone!

  5. KDev says:

    In 2008 Bedfordshire spent £197 per pupil less than the England average. It spent £80 per pupil per year less than the average of our Statistical Neighbours. The higher spending Statistical Neighbours had better %GCSE results than Bedfford Borough. How much per pupil per year would a 3.6% increase in Council Tax represent?

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