Wednesday 3 March 2004

Balanced Budget Shock

Yet another row has erupted in the nightmarish world of Scottish public sector finance. This time, it's in the Borders:
Andrew Tulley, the high-profile leader who stepped down two years ago in the wake of a £4 million overspend by the council’s education department, said the new administration had failed to learn the financial lessons of that debacle.
So has Mr Tully seen the light? Does he now recognise that his regime's "overspending" was a mistake?

Not quite:

Mr Tulley said: "The information in the latest report on the revenue budget, including the massive £3.5 million underspend clearly shows the council is not yet back on a sound financial footing.
Underspend! Good grief. What a disaster.

But not to worry:

... David Parker, the leader of the ruling coalition of independents and Conservatives, said: "Taking financial advice from Drew Tulley would be like taking childcare advice from King Herod.
Nice turn of phrase, although probably politically incorrect.

Mr Parker continued:

In real terms there will not be an underspend, but a break-even budget at the end of the financial year.
Well, that's OK then. Surely no one would expect the Tories to underspend. That might have led to calls for a tax cut.

But a break-even budget's not too bad these days. Should we move the Scottish Parliament to Hawick?