Eric Pickles has claimed that councils can make huge savings – enough to counteract the impact of imminent cuts – by administrative changes such as cutting pay and merging departments.
Indeed there are numerous examples of council waste or extravagent spending. BBC London is reporting today that Newham Council (now laying off dozens of staff) spent £111m on buying and refurbishing its head office.
But doubts have been cast on Pickles’ sweeping comments by his own counterpart in the House of Lords. Baroness Hanham said earlier in the week that:
“Huge sums may not be saved initially, but there is no doubt that useful savings are to be made through councils sharing such services.”
She then tried to correct herself by saying the savings would not be “insignificant”. That does not imply low-hanging fruit in abundance, however.
A Hat-tip to the diligent Will Green at the Newcastle Journal for spotting this.