Yesterday’s post covered the overall madness of budgeting for a deficit, and claiming the budget is balanced. Today’s post will focus on the answers to the questions we posed about Shapley Heath.
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Hart Council’s Mad Budget: Shapley Heath Costs Unknown
Our first question asked about the proportion of internal staff and external consultants that will be used to deliver the myriad of studies that they have planned for the Shapley Heath project. The second asked about the anticipated level of spend on external consultants to deliver all of the required studies.
The short answer to both is that is they don’t have a clue. Or if they do, they aren’t telling us. They also don’t know what level of support they might get from the developers. They have been going for nearly two years and applied for two rounds of funding. It’s astonishing that they don’t know how much it’s going to cost or where the resources to deliver it are going to come from.
Grant Funding Update
Our third question asked for an update on the status of the application for additional grant funding from the Government.
The answer was quite longwinded, but we eventually got to the point. They are hoping for the Government to tell them in March.
Hart Council’s Mad Budget: Bloated Cost Structure sets them up to fail
We then asked them to justify the very top heavy budget with £128K internal staff costs and £122K of overhead supervising a spend of £25K on external consultants.
The most interesting part of the answer was that the overheads are essentially fixed. Therefore, if Shapley Heath were cancelled, most of the overhead costs would be incurred anyway. They could answer why they thought it was a good idea to spend £250K of internal resources supervise £25K of external spend.
We then asked them to justify this level of spend when they are budgeting for a deficit.
The answer was extraordinary. They seem to treat the budget like some sort of elaborate shell game. Apparently, because they budgeted £500K for this project last year, spending on it this year somehow doesn’t count towards the deficit. You might just hear us laughing in the background as this answer was given. They’re like the Millwall of political parties; they can’t add up and they don’t care.
We made the point that as they don’t know what support they are getting from the Government or the developers; they have no idea how much the project is going to cost and only £25K to spend on productive deliverables, they are set up to fail.