Monday 2 March 2009

Big back pockets

The Assembly Government has a scheme running, called Improvement Agreement Grants, under which it offfers additional grants to local authorities across Wales who achieve certain targets. They've allocated £31.4 million to the scheme for 2009-10, and Carmarthenshire County Council is in line to receive around £1.922 million of it.

It's a nice little earner, and is on top of the other monies being paid to the council. It's conditional, of course, and there may well be some costs that the council has to pay out in order to meet the targets, but one would expect most of it to end up in the council's piggy bank by the end of the year.

Not according to the council's leaders, however. According to the report submitted to the full council last week, "it is deemed imprudent to assume any of this funding coming into play for next year". So none of this money was counted at all when the administration worked out that it needed a higher than inflation rise in Council Tax. And instead of going into the piggy bank, the money will be craftily placed into a back pocket somewhere and then magically extracted from a hat later in the year.

Nice word, 'deemed'. It avoids the need for any further explanation. And a very crafty piece of financial sleight of hand from the ruling Labour Party / Independent Party coalition. The only losers are the poor council tax payers, who will be hit with a higher than necessary increase as a result.

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