Redbridge Council has been consulting residents on where the axe on spending its should fall by allowing interactive budget setting on its website. As I blogged before my criticism of the process is that any proposed spending cut prompts the computer to offer a dire warning that a service cut would inevitably follow.
But despite this the overall views of the 4,112 residents who have taken part are robust. They propose cutting spending not merely of the amount Government grant is expected to fall but some extra cuts as well. This would allow a 4% cut in Council Tax. Remember if the Council budget for anything less than a 2.5% Council Tax rise they get extra grant worth 2.5% of their Council Tax from the Government.
So this would mean that if the Council followed the demands of those taking part in the Redbridge Conversation they would actually be able to deliver a 6.5% Council Tax cut. The Council Taxpayers of Redbridge are not so easily cowed by scaremongering coming out of their computers about the impact of the cuts. They have demanded a cut and demanded that their Council cut stuck into finding back office savings. Over to you, Keith.
How representative is their view? Rather more representative than noisy "Fight the Cuts" demonstrators who turn up at Council meetings – such as the bunch of Trots who stormed Lewisham Town Hall the other day and got so much attention in the media as showing the "strength of opposition."
Redbridge has pioneered and given greatest prominence to this YouGov initiative. On Redbridge Council's website you can't really miss it while elsewhere it is buried so the numbers take part with be lower. But their findings offer broadly the same message elsewhere.
In Labour-run Waltham Forest the same exercise has so far generated 1,217 responses. Again residents want the Council to implement the full spending cuts required by lower central Government grant and then some. They also want a 4% Council Tax cut.
Croydon comes out as a 1% Council Tax rise from their 1,157 responses. But remember that if the Council proposed such a budget its prudence would be rewarded by the extra funding that would allow this to translate as a 1.5% Council Tax cut.
Labour-run Wigan sees residents demanding a 4% Council Tax cut – although only 285 have so far completed the exercise.
Conservative-run Plymouth sees the 446 residents so far produce a budget for an 8% Council Tax cut (equating to a 10.5% cut with the Pickles booster.) In Surrey we have 208 residents concluding that a 3% Council Tax cut should be provided – as do the 400 respondents in Warwickshire. In Yorka freeze (equating rememberr to a 2.5% cut) is proposed. South Lakeland residents want a 12% cut. Hounslow a 2% cut.
The YouChoose budget consultation tool from YouGov is available to your Council for free. Details are here.
Just a bit of fun, as Peter Snow used to say? Perhaps but I think it gives an early clue as to how dome of the Council Tax referendums may go.