Saturday, 12 November 2011

Follow The Money

First of numerous budget consultation meetings the other night, co-hosted by the Pentlands and South West Neighbourhood Partnerships at the Gorgie Parish church, next to Tynecastle. Went reasonably well with a brief introduction by Gillian Tee, Director of Children and Families at the Council followed by a comprehensive but not impenetrable presentation by Chief Financial Officer Karen Kelly, before breaking into groups to come up with ideas for maintaining and improving Council services, taking into account the current financial climate. Certainly a bit more inclusive than the loaded question, electronic voting effort last year. Karen's presentation did clarify one thing for me. The current / ongoing Council Tax "freeze" is no longer fully funded by the SNP Government. Instead its included within our "flat cash settlement" i.e. no extra funding but the freeze remains. For Edinburgh this equates to about £7m shortfall year on year. That means, bluntly, by clever sleight of hand, services face more cuts in order to deliver a SNP election promise. Frankly, I'm surprised this hasn't come under greater scrutiny. People seem distracted by the one question, two question, Devo Max vs Indie Lite argument and the real current issues seem to have been left behind.

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