Thursday, 14 April 2016

Still plenty of fat to trim in local government

I often "compare and contrast" the six local authorities I deal with in the West Kent area, to highlight "best practice" or expose waste and inefficiency. 

This morning's post brought this prime example. 

Twenty identical letters (each addressed to me as "election agent"). Each letter had two identical enclosures and sent in a sealed envelope with a first class stamp. 

Now I accept there are statutory requirements under the PPERA, and local authorities have a legal requirement to send these letters to the agents, but it is also fair to say that each letter does not have to be sent in a separate envelope with a first class stamp. In fact, another council I am dealing with this year sent all the letters together in the same envelope with just one stamp.

Twenty unnecessary letters and stamps might not break the bank. Nor might it be significant in the wider scheme of local government spending. However, given the same has probably happened with Labour, LibDems, Greens, UKIP and the others, I have calculated that around £140 in postage and copying has been spent unnecessarily, without taking into consideration the time of a council employee. This is the equivalent to one household's district council tax! 

The hard fact is, if the person sending these letters was self-employed and the money spent was coming directly from his or her own bank account, this would not have happened

Next time you hear a councillor or council officer claiming "we've cut waste to the bone in this authority" and "we really have no alternative but to increase Council Tax by the maximum the government will allow", take it with a large pinch of salt. 

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