What you need to know about the Council’s 2018/19 budget
During last night’s (Wednesday 11 October) Cabinet meeting, progress of the preparation of the Council’s budget for 2018/2019 was reviewed and some proposed changes were approved to go forward to consultation. This marked the first stage of the budget process that will conclude with the Council Tax setting meeting of Council in February 2018.
What’s going on?
The Council is currently working to reduce the predicted funding gap of £9.148m in the 2018/2019 budget and also to achieve financial balance over the medium term to 2022/23.
Why does the Council have this gap?
Havering council continues to receive lower than the average level of Government funding for London despite having the highest proportion of older people and one of the fastest growing populations. It is continuing to press the government to complete the Fair Funding Review currently underway which it hopes will improve this.
The funding gap is also a result of financial pressures in these service areas which are nationally recognised issues:
- The growing demand on adult social care as a result of our ageing population.
- Children’s social care, as the council has seen the highest net inflow of children.
- Housing due to increasing homelessness.
The Council has been working hard to develop proposals to reduce the funding gap and officers have come up with initial proposals and application of social care grant of £3.554m to reduce the gap to £5.594m for 2018/19. Further proposals will be brought forward for consideration in December when more information will be available following the Chancellor’s budget on 22 November.
The proposals include placing children closer to home, using specialist foster carers within Children’s Services; securing external funding for services the council provides and developing an early intervention approach within children’s services to prevent extra cost on adult social care.
Councillor Roger Ramsey, Leader of the Council, said:
“Delivering fair and quality services for all who need them is our priority and we will aim to continue this whilst balancing our budget.
“The new proposals aim to reduce the gap to £5.594m which we will reviewed, along with further proposals, later in the year to achieve a balanced budget. By that time, we will also set out our Council Tax Strategy as there would have been further Government updates. We are and will continue to take active steps to avoid an unacceptable increase of Council Tax to protect our residents and avoid extra financial strains on families.
“Local residents will have the opportunity to have their say on the budget proposals before a full report goes to the Budget and Council Tax Setting meeting in February next year.”