I spent a very interesting half hour over at the Essex County Council website last night. Yes – I did say interesting. I was drawn to the site after reading an excellent blog post over at Flip Chart Fairy Tales. FCFT is a new discovery for me and I strongly recommend adding it to your reading list. It’s a great look at Business Bullshit, Corporate Crap and other stuff from the World of Work.
The story I read at FCFT is about budget cutting, and about how Essex County Council has published a diy budget cutter tool. DIY Slash n Burn. I spent 30 minutes trying to balance the books at Essex. Basically they (and for they we mean every local authority in the country) need to make swingeing cuts in next years budget. They have to do this against the backdrop of a freeze in council tax. Why central Government is imposing such a freeze at a time of such financial austerity is beyond me. It’s at times like this we should all pull together, get involved, make a contribution (and couldn’t that include a few extra quid on the council tax bill?). In one way I think that’s what Essex County Council are trying to do with this budget cutter tool, and isn’t that in part what Big Society is supposed to be about?
In the end, I managed to balance the books. It was interesting, and it wasn’t fun. Apart from some swingeing cuts in the Olympic legacy and Tourism budgets (sorry about that), I really only tinkered with the rest. Why don’t you pop over to Essex and have a go yourself. The tool is easy to use, and my only teeny criticism is that it doesn’t sit too well with the overly happy image sitting above it.