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Havering Council begins drawing up plans to tackle £9million funding gap in its 2018/19 budget

PUBLISHED: 09:30 13 October 2017

Romford Town centre. Havering Town Hall

Romford Town centre. Havering Town Hall

Archant

Havering Council has begun finalising plans for its 2018/19 budget, which currently has a predicted funding gap of more than £9million.

During a meeting of Havering’s cabinet on Wednesday night, the proposed budget – which has an estimated shortfall of £9.148m – was reviewed, and a number of changes were agreed to go to public consultation.

This is only the first stage of the council’s budget process, which concludes with the council’s budget meeting in February next year.

Councillor Roger Ramsey, council leader, insisted that “fair and quality services” remained a top priority as the council attempted to balance its budget by 2022/23.

The council is now looking into a number of money-saving proposals, including using specialist foster carers within children’s services, securing external funding and developing an early intervention approach within children’s services to prevent extra cost on adult social care.

An application has also been drawn up for a £3.554m social care grant that would reduce the predicted deficit significantly.

Cllr Ramsey added: “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.”

The council is keen to stress that the funding gap it now faces is a result of financial pressures that are facing local authorities across the country, but that have become particularly pertinent in Havering.

The borough faces a growing demand for adult social care services as a result of an ageing population, while children’s social care has also been stretched as Havering has witnessed the highest net inflow of children.

An increase in homelessness has also led to more money being spent on housing.

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