1 July 2012

Brum notes

This is much more interesting than Nick's message. A canal in Brum.

From: First Team
Sent: 29 June 2012 14:59
To: AllStaff
Subject: Weekly message from the Chief Executive

I was in Birmingham for part of this week attending the Local Government Association (LGA) Conference. The overriding message of the conference was that local government faces an extended period of budget reductions and increasing demand. The LGA has set out its cross-party view on what this means and much of it will be familiar to those of you who have attended a budget briefing here in Barnet in the past couple of years.

Not all was doom and gloom although this was not an 'upbeat' conference. There seemed to be three responses which councils from across the country were exploring that go beyond the efficiency agenda we are all familiar with.

Firstly, the troubled families programme and finding new ways to ensure young people do not end up in cycles of deprivation and high demand on local services. As you know, Barnet is recognised nationally for its work in this field but, as the director of the national programme said, we have to move from small 'boutique' projects to mainstream authority. The strategic review of early intervention work needs to set its sights on delivering exactly that.

Secondly, that our growing elderly population must be seen as an opportunity. Engaging these citizens in using their skills and experience to support others delivers for the individual and for communities. Roger at the Barnet Eye was unimpressed with the grab-a-granny type sentiments being expressed here. Doubtless the message was meant to be that older people who have perhaps gone part-time can contribute to help younger people or the disadvantaged by dint of their age and experience but the use of the word "opportunity" is crass. Mr Mustard thinks that Big Society will only get us so far and one reason we pay so many taxes and charitable donations is to provide a safety net for the good of society. If one has to work less in order to volunteer more then one's income is less and thus you pay less tax and have less spare money for charity. There is a limit which might well be reached.

Finally, that councils have a key role to play in promoting the economic growth that ensure the UK economy begins to improve. The council took its first significant steps in this area, agreeing a Skills and Enterprise Action Plan last week. There is a £1million package to support local business and help young Barnet residents back into work. Of the £1m administration will swallow £120,000 and Brent X are getting £150,000 to provide retail training which they could easily fund out of the millions they must make themselves. If we go back to the year ended 31 March 2011, before Brian Coleman went wild with parking charges increases, the annual income from pay & display was £2,109,547 and so £1m put towards reducing parking charges in the High Streets could make a vast difference to local businesses and then jobs would flow without Barnet Council and their various schemes. Councils are not business experts so should leave businesses to run themselves without hundreds of committees. The council are now trying to fix the problem that they caused. Less state interference would be better. 

Guidance for businesses wishing to access the scheme is available on our new web page for business. However, I want to encourage all staff to get involved in signposting local businesses they know to the proposals as we look to significantly improve our business engagement. It would have been helpful if a link had been provided. How many businesses in Barnet do you suppose actually look at the council website?  Here is the link. There you go Nick, Mr Mustard has probably doubled the readership for you.


1 comment:

  1. very good, Mr Mustard: on sparkling form ...


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