Sunday, 6 January 2013

"It’s Not A Business It’s A Council Mr Clarke" - Guest Post by Cllr David Jenkins

Cllr David Jenkins
(LD, Cottenham, Histon and Impington)

The County Council revealed yet another Adult Social care black hole this week. It seems to have become an annual event and Leader Nick Clarke was interviewed about it in the Cambridge News Click here to read about it. He was quoted as saying:

‘I want ministers to understand that district and county councils are two very different beasts. A district council is an SME but we are a county council with a £1.2 billion budget. We are a FTSE250 company, and when you treat a FTSE250 company in the same way as an SME it has precarious consequences, because we can drive growth and bring in revenue.’

David says: ‘I’ve got a problem with this on several levels. Firstly of course he’s avoiding responsibility for the mess, ‘it’s not our fault it’s the Government’s’. I could have some sympathy with that if it weren’t for the fact that ever since I’ve been a councillor this county council has been unable to set a budget for Adult Social Care and keep to it.’

‘And secondly why compare councils with companies? They are not the same. They have different stakeholders and their success is measured by entirely different yardsticks. Maybe this obsession with ‘running a business’ is the reason why council morale is desperately low, why budgets are insufficient to cope with the challenges which are presented and why there’s a focus on big projects and borrowing instead of delivery.’

‘But I will agree with Mr Clarke that county councils are different to district councils etc and it would be pleasant if we could think that the Government understood that. What he should be arguing for is stronger and different links between councils and the government departments which they support’.

‘Thirdly: if Mr Clarke is going to make these business analogies then he should understand the business of wealth creation a little better. SMEs are generally regarded as the source of economic growth and it is their success in Germany which fuels the success of its economy. The County Council is not the only source of economic growth. Far from it.’