Hammersmith and Fulham councillor Harry Phibbs has come up with a list of ways to cut the council tax without cutting key services. At first I thought it was one of these 'top ten' lists. Then as I read down, it seemed like it was turning into a 'top twenty'. Then a 'top fifty', perhaps. But no, Harry has come up with no less than a hundred ways to save local taxpayers' money.
Freezing recruitment – which Hammersmith and Fulham has done – is an obvious first choice. Scrapping political advisers, press officers, and the council newspaper. Not to mention arts subsidies, fair trade coordinators, management consultants and diversity officers. Get children out of care homes and into adoption, sell assets and shop around for insurance and other essentials. Turn down the thermostats in council buildings, And go for tap water at meetings, instead of expensive bottled water: that alone saved Hammersmith and Fulham a whopping £36,000!
With such simple economies saving such huge sums, perhaps all councils should adopt the Phibbs List. After all, the rest of us are having to cut back, so why should local government be any different?
Eamonn Butler's new book, The Rotten State of Britain is published in March.