Chapter 18 The All-Powerful Budget Review Working Party is now online
Chapter 18 is available to read here.
The Budget Review Working Party (BRWP), formed in May 1989 and wound up in June 1996, consisted of all the committee chairs, plus the Chief Executive and City Treasurer, and had the purpose of scrutinising every budget item in every department (on a rolling programme) in order to identify possible savings.
This chapter is long and has a lot of detail about the Council’s finances. For someone involved in local government finance, this level of detail may be of interest. For the layperson, it can be hard to follow but does give a sense of how complicated the budgets are and how managing a council to keep things on track is a very complex business. The blow by blow level of detail comes from Kath being a member of the BRWG for 5 of the years covered, first in her role as Chair of Personnel Committee, then in the role of Chair of Education Committee.
This chapter was quite exhausting and I feel it repeats things that are mentioned in other chapters. I have added the sub-headings to try to break up such a large amount of text, but the breaks didn’t come so easily. I would have liked to have made it shorter, but what to chop? And I have ended up making it fractionally longer by adding more explanation of the BRWP in the opening paragraphs so that it works better in this standalone format. There doesn’t feel to be a story as such to this chapter just a set of things that happened. Something I observes is that throughout it seems as if Kath sees all of the issues with budgets as one long series of crises, but another way of looking at this is that is just the way it is managing a massive diverse organisation, costs always increase, efficiencies need to be found, ways of working need to be reviewed, systems need to keep up with the latest thinking and technology, and the unpredictable events of the outside world need to be responded to. That’s what happens in businesses and that’s what happens in local government. She is often bewildered by the fact that other people can be seeing a bigger picture while still managing the day to day stuff, and not only that can have big ambitions. She sees promoting the positive as being spin, without recognising focusing on the negative is also a spin, or rather both are simply filters. Perhaps I will edit my own thoughts here later?
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