SEP 00] COVENTRY CITY COUNCIL NEWS
Social Policies Top Council Spending Plans
beleaguered social services department is set to receive more
money along with maintenance of pavements and parks in a rethink
on council spending.
regeneration is to be moved down the agenda by the council’s
ruling Labour group as councillors try to tackle the huge problems
faced by social services.
parks, public loos and parking schemes for residents are also
being identified as areas for action.
council’s strategic directors have been told to look in their
budgets to find any spare cash to pay for these new objectives.
they have been told to re-examine spending patterns to see if
money is being spent where it is no longer needed.
rise in council tax has not been ruled out, but any increase is
likely to be restricted by the government.
leader John Mutton, who is in charge of the council’s resources,
said the emphasis could be switched away from economic
years ago we had 20 per cent unemployment and a vast amount of
money went into economic regeneration to encourage companies to
move here to create jobs.
are now below the regional average and while we still want to
encourage companies to come to Coventry, it isn’t as important
as it was.
are looking at this in a radical way. We are asking all the
strategic directors to see if they can make savings in their
budgets to meet these new priorities.
because we’ve always spent money on it doesn’t mean we still
should be doing so.”
acknowledged that some parts of the council would be unable to
make savings, while others, such as education, would remain a
departments won’t be able to make any changes.
we’ve got a clearer picture of the problems faced by social
services we will know what they need.
top priority was education, with all the money allocated to it
and more going to schools in the city, and that will still
cash is expected to come to the city from the central government,
following a re-assessment of spending plans.
Mutton said that a projected shortfall of up to £5.9m over four
years has now been changed to a surplus of £2.6m over the same
said that could free up some funds for long-term investment:
of that will have to go to meeting the cost of the 37-hour week,
under Single Status but it will leave a little left.
housing transfer won’t save us any money because the revenue
will go to Whitefriars, but it might save us some capital, which
we can use to make long-term savings.
example, we spend a lot of money on out of city placements for
children in care. If we could build some small children’s
homes in the city, then the unit cost might be high, but we
would be able to save money in the long-term.”
the decisions about next year’s spending will be taken by the
Labour group, before going to the full council, which has a Labour
majority, Cllr Mutton said groups in the city were being
have a statutory obligation to consult with the business
community and I addressed the first meeting to the voluntary
organisations in the city and explained how we wanted them to be
able to feed in their work plans and their views.”
of the extra cash will have to go on the councillors’ pay rise,
which will see an increase of £80,000 a year in the total bill.
Mutton said the original suggestion had been a £150,000 rise, but
he had rejected that.
put in a lower proposal than that suggested by the consultants
because I thought that it was too high.
were 23 chairs of committees under the old system, now there are
ten people doing their jobs.
Standards Committee was concerned that the members were being
underpaid because it is turning into a full-time job and people
don’t have a chance to earn any other money.”