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Friday, 16 January 2015

Stickability of Budget Proposals

Talking to people about the Brent Council Budget, I find one of the most worrying things is the assumption that whatever proposals are put in the budget will just happen and the savings be achieved.  In fact I doubt very much that this is the case.

One quite senior councillor I spoke to said he was worried that not all the projects could achieve their savings within the financial year.  I had to tell him that I would be surprised if any of the schemes will achive full savings within a year.  Firstly, the decision making process (including consultation and so on) is fairly lengthy.  Implementation, depending on the project can similarly lengthy, particularly if it involves investing in new equipment, training people and/or changing behaviour.

There can also be risks from unforeseen factors, such as legal action, unexpected costs, project delays and so on that may wipe out savings entirely.  Anything that involves predicting or suppressing demand is inherently risky.  Furthermore, there are one off costs such as staff redundancy that are virtually guarenteed to push at least part of the full year saving into the following year.

As I look at the proposed savings, I cannot help but suspect that many of these proposals look half baked.  Just because you put a line in a budget document does not mean it actually comes to pass. 

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