A very wise senior officer once told me that politics is really about the discussion of priorities and that regardless of the spin and speeches of politicians, it is actually decided by how councils (or Govt) spend their money.
So how does Surrey Heath spend the money that it receives through Govt grant, business rates, car parking fees and other charges and of course, the dreaded Council Tax?
Now helpfully to the public, Councils generally publish their budgets so that the public can see for themselves and Surrey Heath have just done the same. The problem is that they are not the easiest reading and not overly publicised on the web which makes difficult for most residents to understand.
However, you can find them here on the link below and clicking on revenue estimates for 2013/14. This shows what the Council is currently intending to spend over the next year and spent on previous years.
Surrey Heath will be setting our annual Council Tax figure in a fortnight on 28th Feb and it’s a chance for the politicians to have a discussion about financial priorities over the year ahead.
So for all of the local budding accountants, politicians, financial anoraks, bloggers or anyone else who feels that the Council wastes their money in some areas whilst not doing enough in others, here is your chance! Eric Pickles came up with his own list of 50 areas of Council waste in an attempt to encourage armchair critics and there are certainly many areas in Surrey Heath that can be challenged.
To put in context, the Council’s supposed “self funding” scheme on Council Tax benefits is actually costing £38 000 on their own figures compared to the £82 000 to the alternative scheme supported by the Council’s officers, opposition and 2 Con Cllrs. Leaving aside whether the Council’s estimated £38k is in fact realistic at all (expecting 90% of claimants to pay an average of £380 when they currently pay nothing due to recognised poverty), the political decision made was not to spend £44k for 1872 of the poorest and most vulnerable households in the borough.
Instead, £44k is being spent on….well, lots of things. My own list of areas that I consider are less important will be given at the meeting on 28th Feb and then blogged afterwards…