Written by Councillor Dave Dempsey
By popular demand, the Fife Conservatives have released further details of their alternative to Fife Council’s 2019/20 Budget.
Council Group Leader, Dave Dempsey said “Procedural issues stopped us presenting this properly on Budget Day. However, we knew there was never any chance of it being accepted because neither the SNP nor labour are prepared to consider the sort of radical, innovative measures required to lift Fife Council out of the spiral of decline imposed on it by the Scottish Government’s squeeze.
The main features of our budget were
- A set of savings from the list provided by officers that wasn’t a lot different from that of SNP/Labour
- No reduction in the grant to Health & Social Care (SNP/LAB cut £837k)
- A 2.5% increase in Council Tax (SNP/Lab 3%)
- Releasing £4m from reserves (SNP/Lab zero). We could do this by launching a major programme of outsourcing, which has been shown again and again to yield savings of 10% plus. These wouldn’t appear till the following year, at which point the reserves could be built up again
- £4m of extra spending (SNP/Lab £1.15m), much of which could go to correcting the unintended consequences of the cuts. Last year, the Council reversed or suspended a number of cuts when councillors released what they actually meant. This year is likely to turn out similarly. Better surely to deal with that up front.
We could have allocated significant extra funding for allocation by Fife’s seven areas, where local knowledge makes for better decisions and where small local projects are hamstrung by a cumbersome, centralised budgeting process.
As it is, we’re already seeing cuts in the school day, threats of strike action, etc. as the cuts take effect. Third sector organisations like Fife Gingerbread are facing an uncertain future. Much of that could be eliminated if those in charge had the nerve to say we have to stop doing things this way.