|Ealing Council Warn of Deeper Cuts on The Way|
Now 'sucking the marrow out of the bone' says Julian Bell
Ealing's Council Leader says he 'can't rule out' council tax increases next year as the authority seeks to 'cause the least harm' with a new tranche of cuts.
The council says huge reductions to the grant given from government means by 2020 it will have less than half it had in 2010 to spend.
With its main government grant virtually eliminated, local services will need to be funded instead entirely through council tax, business rates and fees and charges for its services.
Last week 129 council employees were put at risk of redundancy.
Next Tuesday, the cabinet will consider plans to save a further £14.7million over the next three years, on top of the £152.8million of savings already agreed. A further £37million will need to be made by 2020 - the equivalent of more than the entire annual running costs for all the council’s refuse and recycling, street cleaning, parks, heritage and libraries services put together.
In a media briefing prior to the cabinet meeting, Cllr Julian Bell said: '' We have already cut to the bone, we're now sucking the marrow out of the bone.'
'' This is the fifth consecutive year that the government has slashed our funding and each time it becomes more difficult to make the savings. We have a growing and ageing population and the demands on many of our services are only increasing each year, but by the end of the decade we’ll have less than half what we used to have to spend on services.
''We’ve responded to the hand we’ve been dealt by reviewing our services to see if we can change and improve them with less money; finding creative ways to be more efficient and, where that isn’t possible, doing everything possible to cause the least harm.''
Initial savings will be made by developing cheaper care plan options; placing adults with learning disabilities in family homes, and seeking more foster carers for looked-after children instead of paying for more costly residential care homes.
Cuts will be made to the Youth and Connexions service which will be ' reviewed and restructured'.
The council also wants to make more money from commercial waste disposal operators who use the reuse and recycling centres in Acton and Greenford by leaving them open for longer.
Ealing's Council Tax has been frozen for the last seven years but it's looking increasingly likely that it will go up from April 2016. Cllr Bell said he could no longer rule it out - but added that the £2m that might be raised would still be a 'drop in the ocean' in terms of raising revenue for the borough and much more was needed. The authority's budget setting meeting will be held in February.
Councillor Yvonne Johnson, cabinet member for finance, performance and customer services, said: “I can speak for all of my colleagues on the cabinet when I say we have spent months deliberating these decisions. The scale of the cuts being forced on us will mean that some services will need to stop or change. Residents are going to notice a difference, there’s no getting away from it.''
'' Despite the government cuts we are absolutely determined to continue to deliver the things we know really matter to local people. We are doing everything possible to attract more businesses into the borough, creating new jobs and to increase our income from business rates. We will drive forward our ambitious plans to regenerate the area and secure major transport improvements; ensure more decent and affordable homes are built; and push for the best healthcare services for our residents.''
The budget reduction proposals are due to be discussed by the cabinet at its meeting on Tuesday, 24 November and details of the proposals are now available in the cabinet reports on the council’s web site.
19th November 2015