Havering launches budget consultation as “Council on brink”
Havering Council has launched what Council Leader Ray Morgon calls “a make or break budget” as the authority faces an unprecedented financial crisis.
The Council is facing a £31.2 million budget gap in 2024/25, which rises to £77 million over the next four years.
Last night (Wednesday 8 November 2023), Havering’s Cabinet agreed on a range of savings proposals for public consultation.
This includes stopping some services, significant changes to other services and a Council Tax increase of 4.99 percent.
Other proposals include increased parking charges, reviewing libraries and children’s centres and stopping funding for all Christmas events, lights and trees in town centres, plus many other savings options.
Councillor Ray Morgon, Leader of Havering Council, said:
“The Council is on the brink of financial crisis. This is not our fault but rather as a result of a number of factors beyond our control.
"This includes drastic cuts to our government funding, a significant spike in homelessness and housing need, coupled with unprecedented demand for both adults’ and children’s social care.
"This means we are now in a position where we cannot be certain in being able to put forward a balanced budget which we have to do by law.
“This consultation also comes when the Council and our communities are feeling the effects of additional social and economic pressures, including the long term effects of the Covid 19 pandemic and the ongoing cost of living challenge.
“We have one of the oldest populations in London together with the second fastest growing young population in the country.
"This has resulted in huge pressure and demand on social care for both adults and children meaning that 70 percent of the Council’s budget is spent on delivering social care, which we legally must provide – and that figure is steadily rising.
“In addition, the Revenue Support Grant we get from Central Government has gone down to under £2 million this year from £70 million back in 2010.
"The funding formula used to determine our grant from Central Government has not changed in the past decade, whilst our population has become much larger with more diverse needs.
“We are a low cost and effective Council that has not made any reckless decisions.
"We have made savings over the past 10 years or more of around £160 million, so this makes future savings much more difficult. There are very limited options left.
“This is not where we want to be. We will continue to strongly lobby the Government and are having weekly meetings with officials pushing for further help. But in the meantime we will have to take some difficult and painful decisions.
“We know that the proposals in this consultation will mean significant changes to what we do and how we do it, and that those changes will impact many residents.
“We are launching this budget consultation to give residents the chance to share their views on how our budget proposals might affect them, the people they know and their communities.
“We are living in challenging times, but I promise we will continue to act in the best interests of residents and to listen to their views while we do all we can to present a balanced budget, which we must do by law.”
The consultation is open until Monday 18 December 2023.