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What is value for money ?To Paul Grady the Surrey CC District Auditor : I have read your Audit Letter 2009-10 and SCC Audit & Governance Committee material. There is a major discrepancy.

posted 29 Jan 2011, 09:09 by Peter Webb   [ updated 9 Feb 2011, 06:44 ]

To Paul Grady the Surry CC District Auditor : I have read your Audit Letter 2009-10 and SCC Audit & Governance Committee material.  There is a major discrepancy. You have given SCC a clean bill of health on Value For Money. What does this mean to the average person, leaving aside the small print and legal language ?


The clear implication, and SCC understandably proclaims this, is that all activities carried out are unavoidably necessary and  with no waste, and that every £ spent is wholly and necessarily spent in pursuit of the objectives and duties of the Council. It also implies that taxpayers can be content but I can assure you that that is not the case.


I put to you these arguments:


1 I quote from my recent challenge to the leadership and  all councillors:


“I and my  team with multi-discipline experience has failed in repeated attempts to get enlightenment and specific answers from Dr Povey to specific questions. Statements made to us about savings and a council tax freeze are a travesty. The Frater report referred to “fundamental weakness in planning and budgeting”. There seems to be no post Frater finding-by-finding tracker. Specifically


  1. Spending budgets always rise on a trend only constrained by imposed income limitations.
  2. They are presently founded on indicative departmental planning up to an allowed 2 ½% precept increase ie  not zero based
  3. “Savings” are spending trims under the rolling MTFPs  spread over a number of years.
  4. They are likely to be no more than reduced aspirations.
  5. It cannot be seen whether £67m already said to be saved is genuine retained cash back or re-assigned money
  6. A ‘freeze’ for 2011-12 is made possible by grant manipulation through general taxation (ie “top-slicing”)
  7. SCC is making no visible attempt to reduce the funding requirement and move into the tax reduction zone


Even in logic that is in direct conflict with the taxpayer’s interest. Our higher target savings figure of (say) £325m is to take out the ‘fat’ that has built up over the years and which has been frequently defined by us.” (That refers to all the inward-looking, non-productive and ritualistic processes, poor work rate, exploding senior salaries topped by expensive pensions and redundancy payments etc etc.) An alternative assessment supporting that is also  made in Surrey County Council - Tax Evolution at ………Where is the output value in that ?


2 Where can be the value to the community and taxpayers in the constitutional arrangements whereby

·         the leadership and political management who are responsible for running the SCC enterprise are not elected to those positions and are chosen on Party political grounds rather than managerial ability and related track record.

·         There are 30 committees which require servicing and are arguably of a make-work and talking shop nature but taking up much expensive peoples’ time ? There is no clear command and reporting structure.


3 Where can be the service delivery value in the high pension cost, generously disproportionate employers’ contributions and back funding  and leading to an increasing deficit.?



Can you enlighten me please ?