When are savings not savings?

As we know, due to the Covid-19 pandemic slashing passenger numbers at Luton Airport, Luton Borough Council (LBC) have to find £22.5 million pounds of budget savings this financial year.   

Frontline Council staff are all having sleepless nights as they worry if they will be one of the 365 posts lost to achieve this goal. Now we have early Start Children’s Centres facing the axe to save another £3.2 million. These are essential services giving help and support to families and children over all levels of our community, especially those at the most deprived end of the scale, and they are simply disappearing.   

In the background to these cuts, we have the strange announcement, that whilst not having money for jobs and services, LBC do have the resources to potentially appoint an external specialist auditor to analyse all its departments to prevent all unnecessary spending, to ensure those departments meet budget targets over the next five years. As always this will need the approval of the Council Executive Committee.

We find again, the way LBC choses to spend money it supposedly hasn’t got (to find an answer that is staring them straight in the face), an insult to the work force of the Council and the residents of Luton.

The reason that LBC have no money is purely down to one of its departments, London Luton Airport Ltd (LLAL), and that department’s reckless and irresponsible spending. We would suggest that if this auditor is engaged, to save money he/she starts with LLAL, and leaves the other departments to get on with serving the people of Luton.

Let us look at the £3.2 million saved by cutting Children’s Services

£3.2 million, 6.4% of LLAL’S £50 million Development Consent Order budget for airport expansion

£3.2 million, 1.4% of LLAL’s £225 million DART airport-rail transit link budget   

£3.2 million, 3.1% of the £102.3 million that LBC will have to borrow this financial year, to stabilise LLAL as a going concern, and to keep up payments and overspend on the above projects

It is worth pointing out again that LLAL’s only source of income is the passenger and cargo concession fee it collects at the airport on behalf of LBC. If there are no passengers, there is no income, so it cannot pay its debts to LBC, and so the eternal circle of more debt to pay old debts eats up more money that is sorely needed for the town’s services, as slashing front line budgets is the only way to create the money to pay off the loans.

LBC parrot their mantra that developing the airport is the only way they can meet their target of 2040 and the end of poverty in Luton. It would seem that those who are currently in that parlous state, and those who will join them in the next twenty years, are expendable in the face of providing for the nameless, faceless travellers through LBC’s beloved airport.

Save money for real essential services now –

Stop Luton Airport Expansion

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