This week the Office of National Statistics announced that 5.4 million are in the public sector. This is a huge number, of course. However it is the lowest since the ONS started keeping a tally in 1999.
Over the last quarter the fall has been modest – 11,000. Central Government saw no reduction – it stayed at 2.847 million. Public Corporations saw a fall of 1,000 – down to 187,000. But local government saw a fall of 10,000 – down to 2.360 million.
Those figures show that despite all the politically motivated hyperbole the cuts in council spending are modest and manageable. But they do also show that local government has done more than central government to find savings. The point is not that local government spending should be cut less – it is that central government spending should be cut more.
It’s not over yet, of course. This week Birmingham Council claimed that it would be reducing it’s total staffing level by another 6,000. That may be spin – the LibDem MP John Hemming says it is exaggerated.
Certainly the claims of Birmingham Council of unfair treatment lack credibility. The Government have published indicative local government funding allocations for 2015-16. That’s it. The Coalition Government’s Spending Review only goes up to 2015-16. But Birmingham are citing figures for cuts up to 2018. They have just made it up.
Birmingham council received the 13th highest government grant funding (per dwelling) of any council in England in 2014-15. It comes to £3,319. That compares – taking a random example – to Hammersmith and Fulham Council which gets Government grant of £2,362 per dwelling.
What is laughable is the hyperbole from the Labour council leader Sir Albert Bore about what a huge struggle it will be to make “tough” decisions when his council employs 69 full time union officials at the Council Taxpayers expense.
Sir Albert has also made clear that the council will not sell its shares in Birmingham Airport. The council spends £165 million a year in interest on its £3.25 billion of debt – while sitting on a vast quantity of surplus assets.
They are also spending £60 million on wheelie bins – that the residents don’t want.
The Conservatives have proposed the council should:
“Reduce the number of European and Equalities officers to bring them in line with the other Core Cities. It should not be the case that Birmingham has more of these officers when front line services are being cut back.”
Sir Albert should have resigned over the council’s failings regarding the Trojan Horse scandal. If he is not up to the challenge of delivering value for money for the city that is another reason he should go.