The budget, a transformation project and another Barnet blogger
March 2, 2011 1 Comment
I decided to start this blog to add some narrative around the work I do as a Barnet Cabinet Member. There’s plenty of blog based banter about what we do, but none of it comes from anyone involved in running the borough. By adding my voice to the fray, I aim to give you an informed insider’s view. I’ll try and update the blog regularly with considered, topical posts.
As I’m sure you’re aware, the downturn in the world economy has hit the UK hard and Central government has severely reduced the funding it provides to local authorities. Newspapers are full of stories about how councils across Britain are struggling to deal with the financial shortfall. Unfortunately, Barnet is not immune from these challenges.
Barnet’s budget was approved by Cabinet on 1 March and it is, without a doubt, the most difficult budget I’ve worked on. We arrived at the final version after extensive consultation with staff, residents and service users and I believe we’ve delivered the best possible budget for Barnet in the circumstances. We are protecting the most vulnerable, not those who can shout the loudest.
Over the next three years we need to find £53m in savings. I understand that some of the decisions we’ve taken won’t be popular with everyone but I’m not sure pleasing everyone was ever going to be possible.
Barnet was better prepared for cuts to local government funding than many other councils. We’ve recognised for some time that increased funding doesn’t always lead to better, more popular services. In fact, over the last ten years we’ve seen a rise in both spending and services standards but a slight drop in public satisfaction. We understand that if we want to improve services we need to deliver them in a better, more efficient manner.
The council has already begun a major transformation programme – One Barnet – to radically change the way we deliver services and save £100m over the next ten years. Many of the proposals within the budget are linked to the One Barnet programme, which has been designed around three principles: a new relationship with citizens; a one public sector approach; a relentless drive for efficiency.
I’ll be blogging more about the progress of the programme in greater detail over the coming weeks and months.
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