Friday 10 May 2013

H&F Labour Appoints 'Cost Cutting Tsar' To Root Out More Council Wastefulness

Max Schmid, former local government finance
analyst, charged with identifying more cuts and
halting H&F Conservatives' wastefulness
Councillor Max Schmid has been appointed as H&F Labour's council ‘Cost Cutting Tsar.' The chartered accountant is charged with working through the council’s budget to identify more wasteful spending, on top of the £20million of unnecessary expenditure - already targeted for cuts by my fellow Labour councilors and I. Max will also act as a critical friend to the Borough's shadow cabinet as each proposed manifesto commitment is scrutinised, following public consultations, and prior to agreeing H&F Labour's manifesto plan.  

My Labour colleagues and I have already confirmed our costed pledge to cut council tax and will set a cost-neutral budget that will deliver better, more modern services at lower cost to tax payers.

Anyone considering just a fraction of the Conservative run council's wasteful spending and bad practice will get a feel for the scope for cuts. The Conservative administration squanders up to £5m a year on what one leading Tory MP described as "political propaganda on the rates", H&F Council is recognized as having too many senior bureaucrats which are also amongst the highest paid in the UK. They have even been attacked by Bob Neill MP (Con), the Under Secretary of State at the Department of Communities and Local Government for losing millions of pounds on unnecessary "consultants". He told the BBC that this “may simply be slackness but slackness isn’t forgivable under these circumstances.” 

Max Schmid said “There’s a whiff of complacent arrogance about the Conservative administration’s attitude to expenditure and stealth taxes. At last year’s Audit Committee they admitted their waste of public funds on consultants had been a consequence of their “carelessness” (see report on page 251). They give away land at knockdown prices to property speculators with some property firms even publicly boasting afterwards what an easy touch H&F Council is. It’s insightful to note H&F Conservatives actually wasted over £7000 on a Monday afternoon booze-up for a favoured official. At the same time, they have hiked up parking charges by 55% in one year and continue to ramp up countless other stealth taxes. These are the wrong attitudes and out of sync with these austere times. I will go through the books with a fine tooth comb.”

Max qualified as a chartered accountant at the Big 4 finance firm PwC. He specialised in analysing the practices and finances of local councils and other public services. He will join H&F Labour Opposition's finance team which reports to the opposition leadership and is chaired by Cllr. Andrew Jones, the shadow cabinet member for value and finance. The team also includes Cllr. PJ Murphy who is vice chair of H&F Council’s Audit Committee. Max was elected to the Council on 7th February this year in the Wormholt and White City bi-election.