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Ten more jolly super council cash-cutting wheezes

Ten more jolly super council cash-cutting wheezes

🕔04.Mar 2013


Birmingham council leader Sir Albert Bore was kind enough in his budget speech to reference my remark that a “50 ways to save money bulletin” put together by Eric Pickles was so simplistic it amounted to ‘Pippa Middleton does local government’.

If the redoubtable Mr Pickles and Ms Middleton did put their heads together to produce ten jolly super cash-cutting wheezes, this is probably what they would come up with:

  1. You’ll have noticed that council chief officers’ offices are very large and usually have comfy armchairs and a sofa. It’s always worth a root around down the back of the furniture for coins and other interesting items. You’d be surprised at what you might find.
  2. Place a large receptacle in each office and label it ‘swear box’. Make a charge of 10p for each soft oath uttered and 50p for those really naughty words. This is a sure-fire money raiser, especially during these difficult times for local government. Take a tip, though: keep the swear box padlocked.
  3. There’s no need to bring a kettle to boil each time a hot drink is required. Switch off as soon as steam emerges from the spout. It’s also worth investing in a thermos flask to store hot water, thereby saving on electricity costs.
  4. How wasteful are tea bags? Share with colleagues. One bag should be sufficient for five cups of tea, unless of course it’s Earl Grey, in which case you are in trouble. Coffee, very expensive, should be discouraged.
  5. Hot-desking is really quite exciting. There’s really no need for each colleague to have their own desk. Three people can easily share on a 5am to midnight shift pattern. Special money-saving tip: keep the lights down low during the hours of darkness, computers throw off quite a lot of light anyway.
  6. Mayoral regalia. Do councils really need to hoard all of that silverware and gold baubles? Fibre glass maces, which look just like the real thing, can be purchased on the internet. Sell as much ‘treasure’ from the mayor’s parlour as you can, especially when precious metal prices are so high.
  7. On the subject of metal, a great many old council-owned buildings will have lead roofs. Cash in here while you can, before thieves step in and help themselves. You know it makes sense.
  8. Christmas is a dangerous time for spendthrift councils. Think Dickens, but go for Ebenezer Scrooge rather than fat old Mr Pickwick. Do you really need those fancy lights? Remember how we used to make paper chains in the good old days? Not much cost there, lots of fun and encourages team spirit.
  9. Christmas trees are wasteful and ecologically damaging. Make your office ‘tree’ from old coat hangers and crepe paper. And don’t forget to save the cards you receive, cover over the message and then you can re-send next year.
  10. Is it really necessary for council offices to resemble hot houses at Kew Gardens? Turn the thermostat down by five degrees, and anyone who is cold can wear gloves and a coat. Or, better still, go for a brisk run outside during break times.

Implement all of the above and you won’t have to worry about so-called grant cuts. Remember, a penny saved is a penny gained.

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