Maybe I now have my answer.
A few weeks ago I asked through this column if the Government’s promise to “empower” was simply the latest piece of empty jargon or if it really meant something and, if so, what that was.
Last week’s council cuts could provide the answer I’d been looking for.
Call me a cynic if you like but it seems as though our councils will be “empowered” with the responsibility of having to slash their budgets while maintaining the services they provide.
Even if they do protect the front line it will be at the cost of many jobs in local government. Behind the statistics are real people who will lose their sources of income in a tough jobs market.
In that respect you’ll forgive me for not having the same “slash the bureaucracy” zeal as some.
As well as being “empowered” by central Government to do things for ourselves we’re also “all in this together” according to the top brass.
Only we’re not.
We up here in South Holland are facing an 8.53 per cent drop in our ‘revenue spending power’ for 2011/12.
That’s a made-up measurement that, again donning my cynical hat, seems to have been drawn up to soften the harsh reality of the fact we’ve actually lost almost 21 per cent of our Government grant.
But, going with the nonsense jargon-ridden revenue spending power number for a moment, we can have a quick look at why we’re not all in this together.
Take the council of Windsor and Maidenhead, for example. That’s the area which is home to Eton College, which schooled the “all in this together” mob.
They only lose 1.06 per cent.
Surrey, where average house prices top £350,000 and average wages are in some parts more than double South Holland’s? Don’t worry folks, they’re only down 0.31 per cent.
Buckinghamshire? Down 0.6 per cent.
Dorset? UP 0.25 per cent
Maybe it is a quirk of the formula but the simple fact is that, in percentage terms, our cuts are bad.
Yet we have a council that has prepared long before most to try to cut its budget and we live in one of the safest Tory seats in the country.
There are obviously no favours for that from local government minister Eric Pickles, not that we should expect any I suppose. But we’re hardly in an area that needs reining in when it comes to spending.
Perhaps they think we’re an easy target. Whatever it is I’ll take a fistful of salt with my next “all in this together speech”.
Still, at least our lot are “empowered” to cut as they see fit. Some Christmas present that is.