Havering Council's cabinet vote to scrap meals on wheels and some health services
PUBLISHED: 14:16 21 January 2016 | UPDATED: 14:16 21 January 2016
Cabinet members have agreed to make "tough decisions" last night to scrap services including meals on wheels and support for smokers trying to quit in a bid to save an extra £5.6million in this year's budget.
The funding gap was not anticipated by Havering Council and was announced after the government’s autumn spending review.
In the latest financial settlement, central government funding to Havering Council is expected to fall by £10.8million for the financial year 2016-17, due to be finalised next month.
Council leader Cllr Roger Ramsey said the news “came as a body blow to councils like us”, adding that the cut had come “without significant warning”.
“This has put us in a significantly worse position, especially in further coming years,” he told the cabinet.
But Cllr Ramsey said he was confident in the council’s “strength in budgeting” to plan for a balanced budget in 2016/17.
He explained that some of the savings planned for future years had to be brought forward and that the council was going to be “in some difficulty over the next few years”.
Cllr Ramsey said the borough faced the pressures of a changing demographic, which would mean increasing costs in adult and children social services and housing for the homeless.
The cabinet heard some of the council’s reserves might be used to balance the budget this year, although Cllr Ramsey admitted this was not a sustainable solution in the long term.
Cllr Ray Morgon, leader of the Residents’ Group, said the time allowed for the council to re-adjust its budget was “absolutely appalling”, while Cllr Keith Darvill, from the Labour Party, called it “an absolute disgrace”.
Warning of long-term consequences and costs, Cllr Darvill said: “This combination of cuts will impact quite severely on specific individuals – even if it is small numbers.”
Cllr Ramsey said the council had “made this point very strongly to the government”.
If agreed by full council next week, proposals could be implemented by March 31.
Read a full report of the plans in tomorrow’s Recorder.