First cut is the deepest?

11 Feb 2011 by Karl Hallam

Rod Stewart said the 'first cut is the deepest' and that seems to be the case as the full impact of the CSR starts to bite in council budgets. In Rod's 1980s hey day there was plenty of agro between Labour Town Halls and the Tory government. Is it going to happen again?

Labour controlled Manchester has been accused of 'playing politics' with a announcement of library, swimming pool and public toilet closures. Whereas in Nick Clegg's Sheffield (Lib Dem Leader, but No Overall Control) the local newspaper reported that 'Sheffield Lib Dems pledge that museusm, libraries and pools will stay open' albeit with reduced opening hours. This begs the question as to whether Sheffield got a better settlement or, as the Coalition suggested, that Manchester are suffering becuase they have been so inefficient and wasfetful in the past? Some suggest that Sheffield have done it by going back on some of their assurances to the third sector about the level of cuts they were facing, with suggestions that 15% over 1.5 years has moved to 45%. 

The cynics say that the first cut is so deep, so that there can be some increases in budgets in time for the next election. Others think it is just the consequence of having a government dominated by an ideological 'small state' set of MPs. The why is interesting because they must have known that the third sector organisations, they need for the Big Society initiative to thrive, were going to take a big hit when the councils drew up there budgets, as they appear to be doing in places like Sheffield.

To carry on the Rod Stewart theme, it won't all be plain Sailing for Labour either. The lazy approach would be to go into righteous indignation about the unfairness of the cuts, but they need to offer more than that, as they are likely to be in charge of more Town Halls in May and therefore responsible for implementing the testing budgets that are being sorted out now. The new Leader has no background in local government and shows few early signs of having a view, no doubt they'll be a few Town Hall Leaders banging on his door soon seeking content for his blank piece of paper.





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