Camden budget: large scale Town Hall efficiencies won't meet cuts pressure to frontline services

Camden Council today (15 February 2011) released its final proposals for setting the 2011/12 budget and council tax, and meeting an estimated budget gap of £80-100 million over the next three years.

The report, which will be discussed by the Cabinet on 23 February 2011, announces a council tax freeze for 2011/12. The report also details how the Council will meet the budget gap following the government's funding settlement in December 2010.

The government settlement outlined cuts of 26% (over four years) for council funding. This left Camden Council with a budget gap of £80-100 million over the next three years, the largest year-on-year cuts in its history, and one of the largest budget gaps in London.

Having already introduced back office money saving measures for 2011-2014, worth £42.5 million, the Council has had to look at finding more cost-effective ways of providing services. However, efficiencies alone will not meet the unprecedented budget gap. The budget report sets out how the Council will inevitably have to prioritise some services, reduce and stop others, and charge more for some.

Although the Council has outlined savings of £35 million for the 2011/12 financial year, only £12 million of these will come from cuts to frontline services. The rest (23 million) will come from reducing Town Hall costs and work has already started and includes streamlining support services such as finance, communications and human resources, and making more services available online.

The Council will begin a programme reducing council staff by nearly 1000 posts, approximately 20% of the workforce. In total the Council will spend up to £12 million on voluntary redundancies and modernisation, the equivalent sum to Camden's reserves.

The Council remains committed to ensuring that it can protect essential services for the most vulnerable people in our community. The Council will continue to provide early years support above the statutory minimum for those on low incomes, and protect adult social care services for those with substantial and critical needs. Camden Council currently offers essential services for 6,660 people who have substantial or critical needs, including personal care and help to manage at home.  Camden will continue to provide these services going forward.

The Council will also set out plans to meet its massive capital gap which stands at £400 million of unfunded need over 5 years. Capital money is spent on improving and investing in Camden’s infrastructure for example roads, schools and buildings. The deficit, made worse by the withdrawal of £160 million Building Schools for the Future money places strong demands on the council to repair and modernise public buildings.

The capital deficit makes the Council's buildings increasingly unaffordable to maintain, so it will look at how to create fewer but better facilities in local communities that bring services together to reduce overheads and duplication.

This will mean selling buildings which are unaffordable and expensive to maintain, rethinking services and reviewing buildings to enable joined up service provision in local areas. Through its Community Investment Programme the Council will make the best use of its assets to invest in high quality services, repairing school buildings, estate regeneration and housing and providing modern community facilities. Consultation is currently under way with building occupiers and the wider local community.

Councillor Nasim Ali, Leader, Camden Council said:

"This budget sets out where we will make these necessary reductions, while protecting those people in greatest need. We know that this means difficult choices and changes to the services we currently provide. It will mean that services will look and feel different to residents and in some cases services will be removed."

Councillor Theo Blackwell, Cabinet Member for Finance, Camden Council said:

"We have had to take some difficult decisions over the past few months but I am confident that we have set a budget that is as fair as possible, and one that will enable us to meet the budget gap while still protecting the most vulnerable members of our community, including children. We are committed to supporting families in Camden, which is why have limited our reductions in children's services to ten per cent. Although we will have to close two of our seventeen children's centres we will still provide more than many other boroughs do. Equally we are also maintaining a higher level of provision for early years than many other councils will be able to."

Consultations on some of the proposals for change are currently open. Residents are encouraged to visit camden.gov.uk/budget, which has information about the budget and ongoing consultations.

ENDS

Contact

For more information contact Claire Dickinson, communications manager, on 020 7974 5719 or claire.dickinson@camden.gov.uk

Notes to editors

 

The budget report can be viewed on the Council website. The budget report is item 9 http://democracy.camden.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=122&MID=3591#AI2302

Contact info

For more information please contact the press office

Reference code: PR 1340
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