The Bickerstaffe Record

Being Labour, Cotterill on the Council

Job cuts: the Standard & Poor’s factor

07.27.09 | Comment?

On 15 July the Conservatives who control West Lancashire Borough Council, voted through their plans to cut 57 jobs.  As I’ve already set out here, this is a reckless and unwarranted move, owing more to ideological bent than to common sense.

The Conservatives would have you believe the plans were all carefully considered, and options looked at before the decision was taken.


For proof, look at this from an email to all staff from the Chief Executive, sent before managers had had time to compile their reports (29 May):

I make no apologies for once again starting this newsletter with reference to the increasing gloomy outlook regarding public spending.  Three reports have been published over the last week or so which cast further doubt on the affordability of public services in the years ahead.  First of all Price Waterhouse Cooper estimated “cuts needed to prevent public sector debt exploding at an uncontrollable rate” will rise to between £25 billion and £45 billion as opposed to the £15 billion previously quoted.  Second, Standard and Poor cast some doubt over the UK’s current blue chip credit rating and third, we have the KPMG report saying that as many as 100,000 jobs in local government may have to go by 2011/12.’

And there you have it. 

The key rationale for slashing jobs and services is not an assessment of the Council’s finances, but reports provided by firms of accountants who actually stand to do really quite well out of the recession, and by an international credit rating agency which was absolutely complicit in the global financial meltdown in the first place, and had already accepted in this report that it’s use of ‘outlook signifiers’, to which the Chief Executive refers in his dire warning, need to be taken with a large pinch of salt (see III.6 on page 4 for one of the most euphemistic sentences you’re ever likely to see).

57 jobs are going, along with all the deflationary impact that has upon our local economy, and the services that will suffer.  They are going  because this Conservative council relies for its direction on the word of a finance organisation shown to be wholly incapable of doing its job, and which has accepted that the views, used by the Chief Executive to justify the council’s approach, need tighter regulation to stop them being used in precisely this damaging way.

The alternative might have been to look at the council’s own balance sheet. 

But that would have given the Tories the wrong answer.




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