The date of the next general election is set for May 7, 2015. That is one month after chancellor George Osborne’s latest round of cuts will have to be implemented by councils.
Just a month into that financial year it will probably be too early for their extent to be realised by the voting public.
But if Mr Osborne’s political gamble is aimed at hoodwinking voters he is wrong.
Non Tory-run councils will be bleating for the foreseeable future about having their budgets slashed for 2015-16 by another eye-watering 10 per cent.
As the Lib Dem leader of Portsmouth City Council says in The News today: ‘In the last four years we have lost a third of our government funding.
‘Now it’s another 10 per cent on top of that. It means huge nasty cuts we have to make.’
He says the authority will have to look at ‘anything and everything’ to save money and no sector would be excluded including traditionally protected areas such as social services.
And remember, his party is currently sharing power with Mr Osborne’s Conservatives.
The chancellor said yesterday: ‘While recovery from such a deep recession can never be straightforward, Britain is moving out of intensive care, and from rescue to recovery.’
We agree with Tony Briggs, the leader of Havant Borough Council when he says that some of the ‘fluffier’ council services can be axed to make the books balance.
He says: ‘We may have to take a decision to stop funding what I call gold-plated or fluffy services.’
We can all cite examples of services, long carried out by local authorities, which in this day and age can be done by the private sector.
Grass verge cutting for example. Sending three workers to do a job when one will do, is another. The public sector has much to learn from the ways in which its private counterpart has had to adapt in this recession.
Yes, big cuts will come, but there is a sense that perhaps the economy is starting to perk up and we are all just going to have to hang in there and bite another bullet.