Tonight sees the last Council budget before the local elections on May 6th. The LibDems have taken our advice a year late and frozen Council Tax. In those last 12 months, whilst waiting for them to catch up, the Conservative Councillors having been continuing their research with the result being our alternative proposal that the Council should cut tax by 1.75%. This is based on the most conservative figures provided.
Despite reducing the money that we would take from taxpayers, we have found money to introduce a number of policies including an incentive-based recycling scheme, the reintroduction of 200 visitor hours for those living in Sutton’s Controlled Parking Zones and a 50% Council Tax discount for residents in the Armed Forces whilst serving overseas on active duty. We have even doubled the amount put aside in case of overspend at the controversial £8.5m Sutton Life Centre since it is clear that this will be a burden to local taxpayers for sometime to come.
Getting accurate figures about how many consultants that we employ and how many vacant posts, which are budgeted for but not filled, has been incredibly difficult with different parts of the council saying different things. Our savings mainly come from 3 areas.
- We will reduce the number of consultants. All too often, someone leaves the employ of the Council to step back into the Civic the next day on an inflated fee based on a day-rate.
- We will change the approach of the Council to move away from day-rates toward specific results and time frames so that jobs cannot be spun out.
- We will remove unnecessary vacant posts from departmental budgets and freeze additional staff recruitment for two years whilst shielding primary council services from any cuts following a comprehensive staff review.
- We will reduce communication costs. We have a contract to provide communication services. We should not be paying others to duplicate effort.
- We will make Sutton Scene self-financing.
- We will reduce the overall amount of allowances that councillors take and freeze allowances across the board for one year.
So, to summarise, we will reduce our dependency on highly-paid consultants, get rid of non-jobs, spend less on telling residents how well we are doing and reducing the cost of politicians whilst still improving services.