In February David Cameron said something I agree with for once. He claimed that councils run by the Labour party have been deliberately cutting jobs instead of bureaucratic waste so that they can blame the economic sufferings of their constituents on the coalition government to boost their own support. Even the traditionally Labour leaning Guardian newspaper confirms this.
It’s a typical backstabbing gesture by the Labour party against the British People. In my home town of Liverpool Labour councillors are screaming about unfair spending cuts, yet approximately a third of the 92 million cuts to be made initially in the city (as ordered by the coalition government) are a result of council debts incurred by prior overspending. This is in spite of the claimed 800 million benefit brought to Liverpool’s economy by its 2008 Capital of Culture Status – itself part of a wider EU driven social re-engineering project.
Liverpool city council’s apparent inability to cut waste instead of jobs is also to do with an expensive long term contract with Liverpool Direct, set to run until 2017. Liverpool Direct is a private, 80% BT owned, company that charges in excess of 80 million a year to do a job Liverpool city council ought to be doing itself. Yes, that’s privatisation of local services by a supposedly socialist Labour / Liberal dominated council. No wonder the council received a one star performance rating by the Audit Commission in 2008 – the worst in the country.
According to the Liverpool Echo, an independent audit last year found that Liverpool Direct is overcharging the council by 10 million a year and that it could save 23 million a year if it bought itself out of the contract. Meanwhile, to honour its contract with Liverpool Direct, the council is having to cut many frontline services that don’t fall under the remit of the private company, including family homeless hostels (surely those hostels will be needed if spending cuts lead to higher unemployment and more homelesness).
Things start getting a little suspiscious regarding Liverpool Direct, following this Daily Post article. Peter Cosgrove was investigating the council’s contract with the company and has since been suspended for undisclosed reasons. And here it gets more suspiscious. Liverpool Direct leader David McElhinney was transferred into the position of council leader on a six month temporary basis before being transferred back over to Liverpool Direct. It was he who suspended contract investigator Peter Cosgrove. Attempting to preserve his personal interests in the Liverpool Direct contract perhaps?
Despite the council passing on many of its responsibilities to a private contractor, it is still content to pay council chief exec Ged Fitzgerald £197,500 per year (£55,000 more than the Prime Minister apparently). That’s after a minute pay band drop of less than 3%. What exactly is he doing to justify this wage?
As we look down the payband tiers of the council the pay cuts become bigger. The less you earn, the more you lose with some even losing their jobs. An interesting point about all this is that many layers of management bureaucracy have been shed, but the council has kept the details of their severance packages secret. Those managers went very quietly. How much was spent keeping those leaving managers happy that otherwise could have kept frontline services running? Severance pay for previous Liverpool city council leaders may offer an indication. According to the article just four managers took away almost two million in severance.