Column: This report was not money well spent
The Doncaster Education and Skills Commission recently published its long awaited report, which is rumoured to have cost the taxpayer tens of thousands of pounds.
This is a report that could have easily been written by officers already paid by the taxpayer either working for the council, the Children’s Trust or even by local people. Yet the mayor chose to spend this level of resource with a private contractor, at a time when budgets are extremely tight, adult social care for the elderly and vulnerable is buckling, inflation is on the rise, more people are using foodbanks and council staff are being asked to put themselves forward to be made redundant. That said, I have to say that I do agree with many of the subjective findings in the report. And I am pleased that the report seems to have accepted nearly all the recommendations that I put forward, as I’m sure many other people did too, particularly now there is a focus on tackling the aspiration deficit that exists in some communities, and the need for a whole environment approach to education. The point is, if I can make these submissions, and they are accepted, wouldn’t it have made more sense to use the skills on Doncaster’s own doorstep, whether that is local profssionals, or staff that we already pay for in the council? At least this way we would all feel more valued, and there is a direct re-investment in the local economy. Better still we may have been able to spend this extra money on hiring apprentices, or provide scholarships for young people, who despite their academic potential can’t afford to access higher education. I’m afraid that the council cannot have it both ways plead poverty and spend money frivolously. I know in the grand scheme spending tens of thousands of pounds will not break the bank but I’m afraid if I had that same conversation with people that have not seen an increase in wages since 2010, families still try to live on less than £12 a week, people who do not have a living wage, or those people that have to make choices between heating and food this winter, it would bring it home to people in power why this type of decision is not strategic, to the contrary it borders on being negligent. Finally, for all those people who attended the launch of the report and suggested we should be a city comparable to Leeds or Manchester, I say to them why isn’t it good enough to just be the best market town with a booming economy. Is it not enough to be proud of own culture, identity and heritage.