Last week I attended my first Cabinet meeting and came away a little concerned. The new cabinet does not seem to have the quality of the last one and there were a number of worrying signs over the council’s finances. One of the recommendations was to increase the budget on the school intervention process by £800,000 in 2015 -16. Since we are still pretty near the bottom of the national league tables this is not a decision to argue with – or is it?
The opposition parties suggested this needed to be done back in February but were laughed out of the chamber by the Tories. A touch of ‘we told you so’ is never as satisfying as you would think. But the main issue with the decision is that last year the Children & Young People’s team underspent by over £1.5million so adding an ‘extra’ £800,000 is hardly worth shouting about.
When I asked why they were happy to have under spent when the performance is so bad I received the crass comment back from the member for Finance – Richard Smith – that it always preferrable to have an underspend! Really? Surely a child’s education is more important? However, worryingly it either shows a distinct lack of financial acumen or a worrying strategy from the Tory Group.