We seem to be nearing the crunch on Brexit, though the prospects for a happy settlement don’t seem good. The Tories used to brag they were the party of good financial management, but that will clearly no longer hold water. They have got us into a right mess on the Brexit front with potential for dire consequences for the economy, said they wanted us to stay in but held a referendum that predictably didn’t go that way. Labour didn’t help as they really turn up (to use a football term) for the debate.
Add to which most people seem now to recognise that public spending was squeezed too hard, leaving local councils near impossible tasks to manage whilst coping with an ageing population and the Universal Benefits project being seriously misjudged..
So we may get an announcement soon on a proposed deal which the governing party may throw out, if so we shall be in an even worse mess.
Our feeling on a non-party dogmatic basis is that if a deal emerges the PM should be supported, and lets move on. Otherwise the Tories will be at risk of not being trusted for a long time to come.
Scotland’s transport minister has been accused of “freely admitting” a potential shake-up over free bus travel after he raised “concerns” over their long-term sustainability. Humza Yousaf made the comments just weeks before the results of a wide-ranging consultation on raising the age of eligibilty.
He said it was important to find a balance with the scheme and ensuring affordability, due to Scotland’s ageing population. Mr Yousaf said there was “concern around the longer-term sustainability” of the scheme, with Scottish ministers considering raising the age of eligibilty. He added: “We know that we have an ageing population, an ageing demographic – as most of western Europe does – and therefore we have to find a balance between making this scheme fair, realising the benefits of it, and making it sustainable in the long term.
George Osborne boasts of having reduced the government’s financial deficit through continued austerity, but it appears clearer by the day that a significant part of the cuts were based on negligent misjudgements of the ability of local government to absorb those cuts whist maintaining essential services. And since May has become prime minister, we have had an autumn statement and a spring budget that have barely deviated from George Osborne’s spending plans.
It is difficult to come to any other conclusion when major Tory shires are making the headlines by their ability to manage major deficits in funding – and the warnings were there a year ago30th March 2017 when it was revealed that Surrey County Council had plans to cut millions of pounds from frontline services in face of Conservative austerity. Surrey council has backed away at the last moment from a controversial plan to poll voters on a 15% rise in council tax, mainly to pay for social care, instead recommending a rise next year of just under 5%.
Surrey “Britain’s richest county” is facing a £100 million cash crisis as scores of councils struggle to close budget deficits, an investigation has found.
Surrey County Council has one of the worst financial shortfalls in the country, according to research seen by The Times. The disclosure came as nearly every part of England warned of tax rises to make ends meet and half of local authorities prepared to cut services for children. Nine out of ten councils will be millions of pounds over budget by the end of the financial year.
Surrey’s woes will alarm Downing Street as it is a solidly Conservative council and the county is represented at Westminster by seven senior government ministers.
Tory-run Northamptonshire County Councilquietly issued a section 114 notice last Friday to signal that it had effectively gone bust, a victim of rapidly shrinking income and rising demand for the social care services it must legally provide. It is the first town hall to be brought down by austerity, but it may not be the last.
The surprise is not so much that it happened but that it took so long. The county has been stripping back its budget for years. Even in 2014, when it unveiled its ambitious (and ultimately futile) “next generation” plan to try to put the council on a financially sustainable basis, it warned that meeting the demands of another five years of cuts was “getting towards the impossible”.
A GLASGOW MSP is asking constituents to help him with a dilemma of ageing.
John Mason wants to find out if people think he should apply for a free bus pass as he has just turned 60.
Mr Mason, while agreeing with the concessionary travel scheme, said he is in a well-paid job and can easily afford the bus fare.
He is grappling with the decision of using what he is entitled to or accepting something for free at a cost to the public purse, which on a MSP salary of almost £62,000 he can afford to pay for. Read more