Council ‘struggling’ to balance budget
Leader says reserves may have to be used with £43m of savings still needed to be found
FURTHER public services are set to be axed in Ealing after the council revealed it is still to find savings of £43million.
It revealed on Tuesday, December 15 that swingeing cuts which have decimated council-run services have only resulted in £53m of the £96m savings required. Nearly £9m must be identified by February and the total amount needed saving could still rise further.
Council leader Julian Bell, said: “We will try to meet the gap but if we can’t meet it we will have to use our reserves. We are really struggling to find ways of making and balancing the budget without doing really, really terrible things.”
At a cabinet meeting on December 15, councillors considered a £2.9m reduction to children and youth services, looked at new ways of funding the Brent Lodge Animal Centre and approved a reduction of £100,000 to its budget from April 2017.
The swingeing cuts have been caused by a reduction in government funding to councils.
Last month, the council revealed crucial services will be slashed as a result.
These included redundancies at the council, reducing funding for schools’ lollipop crossing patrols, road gritting operations and ground maintenance and the selloff of day care centres such as Carlton Road.
Mr Bell warned that continued cuts could leave a council unable to do little more than provide statutory care and collect rubbish and recycling, adding: “If we are to tackle this problem of balancing the budget we are potentially looking at stopping all kinds of services, and we’re desperately trying to see if we can find ways without doing this.”
He said once this year’s books have been balanced the council will ‘take a deep breath before looking at further ways of saving money’.
The council expects its core government funding to be significantly reduced over the next few years and will shortly hear how much central government funding
TJG1ST it will receive for the year ahead.
Conservative opposition leader Greg Stafford accused Mr Bell of playing cynical politics at the expense of the people, adding: “The council needs to make total cuts of £35m to balance the books but it is trying to find £50m this year. They want to make the brunt of cuts when they believe they can blame a Conservative government.”