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Saturday 19 November 2011

TPA – Audit Whopper

The appetite of the assorted non-job holders at the so-called Taxpayers’ Alliance (TPA) for misinformation seems boundless: yesterday came a piece suggesting that the Audit Commission says that local Government spending cuts are “essential”, when that body has said nothing of the sort. Also, the post is categorised “Better Government”, when as any fule kno, that is not the TPA’s objective.

Author of this freshly steaming pile is Chris Daniel, whose previous smug-looking mugshot has been replaced by a much more serious-faced and even mildly menacing one (the same goes for head non-job holder Matthew Sinclair, but one can only stretch credibility so far). Sadly, though, Daniel’s approach has not improved since the last time I took him to task.

More from the comfortable of Tufton Street

This is evident as soon as the Audit Commission report, Tough times: Councils’ responses to a challenging financial climate (read it HERE [.pdf]) is consulted. Not only does Daniel misrepresent part of what the Commission says, he manages to omit significant amounts of that report, more than likely because the contents are inconvenient to the TPA.

So, when Daniel tells that the Commission says that spending cuts are “essential”, the language they actually use is, for example, “The combination of cuts in local Government funding and falls in other income mean spending reductions will be needed”. And readers are, once again, fed the pejorative term “dip” (slang for “pickpocket) for those councils that use up reserves.

Headlines that Daniel does not relay include “Councils expect other income streams to fall by £1.2 billion on top of the £3.5 billion cut in Government support”, “Most Single Tier and County Council (STCC) will see some reductions in service volumes and increases in fees and charges”, and “Smaller services [like social care] are making a big contribution to the savings needed in STCCs”.

Nor are readers told that “Planning and cultural services face the largest reductions in spend in STCCs” (worrying when the planning process is also under attack), “Central Government support to STCCs fell by 12 per cent and to District Councils (DCs) by 16 per cent in real terms”, and “There is a strong link between local deprivation and the scale of funding reductions (STCCs only)”.

One might hope that the TPA didn’t mean to be so selective in their analysis, but that hope would be misplaced: once again, this Astroturf lobby group pursues its sole objective, to demonise Government together with public service and public works, by whatever means serve.

It’s not good enough, but again, it’s to be expected. Another one for the bin.

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