'Unprecedented' cuts will mean changing or stopping some council services
It's looking like it will be a bleak start to 2015 in Ealing after the council announced it still has to cut almost £9 million (by mid-Feb) to balance the books.
Local services - already under presssure - face further hardship with children and youth services facing cuts of nearly £3million. Meanwhile the Brent Lodge Animal Centre will have to find new ways of funding and will lose £100,000 from April 2017.
Despite agreeing more than £53 million of cuts in the past two months, Ealing Council still needs to find almost another £43million if it is to reduce its budget by £96 million by April 2019.
At a meeting of the council’s cabinet last night (Tuesday, 16 December) councillors heard that they still needed to agree £26 million of budget reductions in order to reach the savings’ target for the year ahead. Of this money, £8.6 million must be found by mid-February if the council is to balance its budget. This will mean that the council’s cabinet will need to consider further budget reductions when it meets in January and February.
The council expects its core government funding to be significantly reduced over the next few years. It will hear in the run up to Christmas exactly how much funding it will get from the government for the year ahead. If central government budget reductions are greater than expected then further cuts will be needed.
The council has already pledged to freeze council tax again next year. To cover the savings’ target through council tax every household’s bill would need to roughly double.
Councillor Julian Bell, leader of the council, said: “With less money we have no choice but to change or stop some services. The chancellor made it clear in his autumn statement that the public sector will continue to be hit by swingeing and relentless cuts for years to come. Local government has been deliberately and disproportionately targeted with more cuts than any other part of the public sector so there can be no surprises that local services are being affected.
“We are still significantly short of our budget reduction target for this year and must find almost £9 million before mid-February in order to balance our budget, which means further tough choices in the new year.”
Councillor Yvonne Johnson, cabinet member for finance, performance and welfare, said: ''The scale of cuts that we are making is unprecedented and every service is affected. It has been suggested that the council should use its reserves but the truth is that 61% of this money has already been allocated to projects like expanding schools and building new homes. Around 20% belongs to local schools and the remaining 19% is our safety net should we face an emergency. It can only be spent once and then it will be gone.
“We will continue to drive down costs, be as fair as possible in the decisions we take and run the council according to the priorities we were elected to deliver. We aim to attract more businesses into the borough, which will create new jobs and increase our income from business rates; ensure more affordable homes are built; and push for the best healthcare services for our residents.”
The council has more information about the budget con its website www.ealing.gov.uk/budget A video was produced (at no cost to the council with help from residents) it can be viewed at www.youtube.com/watch?v=UfTxoV6XRmM&list=UUoI9fzIsjNbPOOMnTO6fxhQ
17th December 2014