Tuesday, 15 November 2016


The Annual Report – with references to and experience of Surrey County Council and boroughs.

WHY ACCOUNT? (This excludes Management Accounting until a reference in the closing paragraph)
1.    In every walk of life we join together in proprietorial groups with varying activities and purposes. Whether it be a tennis club or plc it will be governed for good order and inter-party relations by rules or a constitution. Varying degrees of prescriptive law apply. Structures are organised and  by ancient necessity we elect or appoint from amongst ourselves or hire others to run the show.

2.    Given this delegation we retain control by long established formal accountability for stewardship and renewal. Normally there is an annual heartbeat with a discharge by Annual Report, a narrative with facts, to account for decisions taken with explanations of intentions, and renewal by (re)election. Government doesn’t yet embrace this only comparatively recently having evolved out of  feudal society, traces of which remain, and granted the incompletely installed universal franchise.

3.    We all became the funders of an always growing interventionist State which tries to govern, by whipping, through tribal political Party ‘secret society’ association and influence which has no legal right to exist. This tends to usurp the proprietorial group structures and electoral process. We are ill-served in this respect.

4.    Efforts to persuade local authorities, concentrating on Surrey County Council, to comply with the spirit of accountability have failed. That is in spite of that sprit being behind much legislation and best practice. I have, via my MP, sought direction on standards  from the NAO, who referred me to the Electoral Commission. They in turn gave me a named contact  in the Cabinet Office. Eventually after administrative cock-up the matter was said to be with their constitution group. From there – nothing. I submitted at their invitation to the House of Commons Inquiry into Voter Engagement which terminated only with registration having so far found but not recommended for –“Lack of belief in the meaning of elections as they are presented; Poor voter turnout is not due to apathy but lack of awareness and information on which to vote;  dissatisfaction with politicians, political parties and UK politics”.  An appeal to the Local Government Ombudsman against the council’s refusal to address the Report to residents has also met with: “This matter affects all or most of the residents within the council’s area and is outside the Ombudsman’s jurisdiction”.

5     Surrey County Council has recently started to produce an Annual Report. That for 2015-16 is exemplary. But undemocratic Party supremacy seems to be behind a refusal to communicate it to the electorate most of whom don’t know of its existence, or more importantly, if they do what is its purpose. In fact we have again the crazy result that for 2016-17, the period ending before the election it will, without a swifter timetable or delay in election date, be withheld until after the council elections.

SOME ASPECTS AND IMPLICATIONS with the Surrey Report in view.
6     An example of activity change: helpful reference was made in context to the bed unblocking policy of the new re-ablement service which I have personally experienced but knew nothing about as a ‘shareholder’
7     It is the natural vehicle for compulsory disclosures or links to data. By definition they must be made to someone.
8     Financial matters are reported on and explained. Surrey CC is insolvent due to the pension deficit, a matter of direct consequence to taxpayers.
9     Allowed its intended function greatly reduced FOI and “transparency” burdens on staff would undoubtedly follow.
10 Under the dubious cloak of “transparency” we are offered access to quantities of internal working documentation, but how can we tell the time from a clock in pieces ?
11 Criminally in 2009 election year the devastatingly critical Frater Report (see website page) was deliberately withheld by the councillors.
12 It is said that “ interest in such documents is likely to be limited to a very small minority…” . That is a lazy and decadent thought which categorises electorate classes. The point is not the degree of interest but the placing of responsibility for being informed by the giving of due notice. “…Those parties interested in………” are not able to apply if unaware.
13 Council refusal to address all residents is on the lame excuse of distribution cost which could, where the internet doesn’t serve, with a ‘can do’ attitude be funded by income  (cover charge and/or sponsorship?)
14 As a private sector shareholder I must by law be accounted to and must give consent to receive the Annual Report electronically. Either as shareholder or resident voter my equity interest is identical . My preference has often been to check that the audit report is 'clean' and then perhaps leave it at that. There have been Surrey cases of qualified reports as just one of many reportable matters of concern but invisible to we resident voters about councillors’ behaviour and performance in their managerial role on our behalf (see 11 above).
15 They quote legal ‘small print’ which is said to place the process with the council. Councillors thereby exclude us to deny our democratic rights, and responsibilities, and allows councillor conflict of interest.
16 Once elected to the Council they become responsible for the running of the enterprise. The electorate should be able to judge performance and competence. In the absence of formal accountability I am not equipped to vote in local elections and publicly say so.


17 Local authorities could be regarded as  accountable to central government and not resident taxpaying voters. But that is not so, a matter of an identified costly and uncontrollable debt generating Europe-wide  system flaw subject to needed further development of WGA (Whole Government consolidated Accounts) and WGB (budgets). I have submitted deep probing questions via my MP about this backed by very high level evidence to the C&AG and PAC. 

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Because politicians seem to prefer it that way

Running the country is not what they like doing. They want to be allowed to use pretend money, some of it tax and some borrowed, without thought for tomorrow. It is hoped that that will take care of itself because of “the economy” at least for the immediate electoral period.

The fatal flaw is summed up for the Eurozone and sterling area by an MEP in 2008 who said:

“ The chances of the EU meeting the entirely proper demands of the nine taxpayers alliances are close to zero. On Monday, we heard yet again from the Court of Auditors a catalogue of good intentions wholly unequal to stopping the misplaced flow of billions of euros. The EU has been shifting the deckchairs on this particular Titanic for years. It stays afloat largely because of public indifference to the waste of their taxes. #The concept of “shared management”, which leaves accountability in the hands of recipients of public funds, is not widely understood. Yet it is the cause of the failure of the court to sign off the accounts for the past 14 years. They never will until this is addressed.”

And reported of the IMF in 2016: failure to grasp that currency unions require treasury and political union or are vastly exposed to debt crises.

And for the UK sterling area and its devolution method cf the unforeseen accumulating Scottish deficit (£15bn in 2015-16)

Government adopts cash and borrowing orientation whereas management accounting also reflects and supports the organisation structure in which it is employed. It works with the 500 year old accruals (double entry) basis of transaction date and period without which large organisations cannot delegate/devolve authority while retaining control. Setting budgets from committed plans is part of that. Such a  financial system is not complete without a constantly updated scoreboard  reflecting upward reporting for re-direction and plan updating.

In what way do governments think they can manage otherwise ? Where is the relationship, contractual/constitutional and operational difference between any central government or currency zone and an international multi-product conglomerate ? Governments round Europe are beginning to come round to this but this issue of public finance management is seldom met in media and public discourse. All the learned political economics concentrates on “the economy” and esoteric questions of money printing and quantitive easing, both of which have bad side effects.

And "One of our interviewees (of Anthony King and Ivor Crewe in 2013-14 The Blunders of our governments p309), after a long and wide-ranging discussion, said there was one important issue we had not raised. "what was that?" we asked. "The Treasury", he replied. He blamed the Treasury for almost all of Britain's ills dating back over many decades and wondered aloud why an organisation that had presided for so long over such a poor economic performance was still held in such high esteem. The short answer may be that, at least within Whitehall it is less esteemed than feared." 

Saturday, 9 January 2016

FLAWED GOVERNMENT the case of Surrey County Council

1.      As of January 2016 Surrey County Council does not understand the FOI question “To whom, for what and how is it accountable”.

2.      The answer has been given in the form of references to its Constitution which is necessarily and effectively the Council routinely  talking to itself. Article 1 says ”The council will exercise all its powers and duties in accordance with the law and this Constitution”.

3.      There is also Article 3 which is entitled THE PUBLIC AND THE COUNCIL and sets out all the access rights and boundaries appertaining to that undefined class but not it’s interest. There is no reference to Council reporting responsibility outwards towards central government, taxpaying voting residents and other identifiable classes served.

4.  Stakeholders apart that responsibilty would cover reporting  to provide the feedback necessary to establish that requirements of law and policy have been carried out so that policy can be adjusted if necessary, executive action is informed and resource disposition is changed if necessary. For stakeholders the purpose is to account for discharge and renewal, for (re)election of representatives, and for any other business.

5.      In every situation there is a superior authority.  Wellington’s victory at Waterloo and Nelson’s at Trafalgar  required a despatch. Battle of Britain pilots returned to a debriefing. The RSCH Trust lays its Annual Report before Parliament; that document covers not just the financial but  all aspects.

6.      To some undefined degree we the people are the superior authority but whether as local residents or citizens of the Nation is not clear. Is the County Council accountable via the Centre or to local voters directly ?

7.      It is already officially established that there is a lack of belief in the meaning of  elections as they are presented and that poor voter turnout is not due to apathy but lack of awareness and information on which to vote.

8.     At present we are asked only to vote for people to represent us for no clear reason and without conventional supporting evidence. But the undersigned’s representative on Surrey County Council refused to answer, with the support of the Monitoring Officer and Audit & Governance Committee, invited fed-back questions on the Annual Report 2014-15. That same Annual Report was not targetted at stakeholders though so addressed. That for 2016-17 will be held back until just after the 2017 election. Yet Council Leadership can see nothing wrong with that and has no suitable answer to the FOI question at 1 above.