Friday, 10 January 2014

Budget time approaches

Early January always brings with it a heavy but slightly different council workload. Ignoring the by election which has made this year slightly different, we have not yet fully kicked in to the usual cycle of meetings but it still remains one of my busiest times as I work with colleagues and officers to finalise the draft budget for publication on Monday. The budget process starts with a bang with meetings with the other group leaders, the Trade Unions and the media as well as supporting the Chief Executive at three staff briefings. And that is just Monday! Before that a range of papers need to be finalised and agreed on issues including our proposals on revenue, capital, the Housing Revenue Account, the Council Tax Base, the schools budget etc. All these papers go out under my name and I need to work hard to ensure that they reflect the proposals which I have agreed with colleagues and that I have a detailed knowledge of the relevant provisions ready to defend the draft during the ensuing debate. This is not made easier by the late timetable for receiving some information from government or the difficult nature of some of the decisions we have to make. We are very lucky at Southend to have a very skilful team of financial officers who have been working very hard over recent weeks and we are nearly there. I am determined that we will continue to produce creative and reactive proposals which deliver the economies required whilst driving services and performance forward. I will comment on the plans in more detail next week.

ps as many will know typing is not one of my stronger skills. I am relieved that before I pushed the publish button I re read this item only to discover that the letters "ser" has disappeared from the word "services"in the last sentence! Now that would have been unfortunate.

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