Let’s Talk Pencil-Pusher: Lesson II—Beancounting for Beginners (Second of a series, translating bureaucrat-speak into what it means for folk in East Lothian)
Our UK-wide BBC has focussed on horror stories of English council cuts, ranging from 8.8% in poor Hackney, Inner London (£210 per head) to under 2% in affluent Wimborne, Dorset (under £3 per head) so that milder reductions in Scotland have gone barely reported. Here, an average 2.6% means £450m for all 32 CoSLA members. But does that mean cuts for East Lothian and, if so, where?
The answer is: NO. Schools and adult social care have had budgets maintained by ELC. Some teachers may be lost but only because pupil numbers have dropped; the ratio will actually improve as more P1-P3 class ratios drop to 18.
The savings required come from deleting unfilled jobs and staff transfer. The home help service is being cut in line with a policy (from Labour), with a risk that not all will find other posts. But to promise no redundancies would be to put square pegs into round holes: not good use of public money.
People anxious about the future of their council services should not be; our libraries are secure (NB, Haddington and Tranent all due for a facelift); our Sports centres are now run by Enjoy (a trust, insulated from council finances); parks will be mown and flowers planted; bins emptied, roads fixed, lamps lit, etc.—just as heretofore. By planning ahead and slimming staff numbers, buildings can be emptied, further cutting costs.
Doubtless, some—especially the few losing jobs— will be unhappy but virtually all 13,000 job losses expected are in other councils. East Lothian has set an example how best to look after its customers and staff in times that are hard for all.