Cuts loom as council looks to make £15m savings
4:10pm Thursday 28th February 2013 in News
Jobs cuts, privatisation of much-loved services and the selling of property are on the agenda as the council prepares to cut millions of pounds more from its budget.
Wandsworth Council is facing a monumental task over the coming 12 months as it attempts to cut an eye-watering £15m from its budget.
In 2010, following the Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review, former council leader Edward Lister endorsed a four-year programme to reduce the budget by £55m by 2014.
But three years on this figure has spiralled to £80m on top of an extra £20m the council admits it needs to find by 2015.
The local authority has already “identified and implemented” £65m of the £80m savings since 2010 but must swing the axe again or face huge increases in council tax.
Plans include reducing the number of council departments from six to four by October next year, removing two director-level posts and outsourcing leisure and youth services.
Last week, the council also announced it would be raising council tax, for the second time in a decade, by 3.1 per cent meaning residents will pay an extra £11.44 a year.
However, the report shows an extra £71.7m must be raised by next year or council tax could rise by a whopping 59 per cent.
As part of his proposals council leader Ravi Govindia has suggested the adult and children’s services departments and the housing and environment departments be combined to reduce costs.
This would mean two high-paid directors sacked as well as “associated reductions” to staff throughout the two affected departments.
Other proposals include a full review of town centre management and voluntary sector grants.
Cancelling expensive refurbishments of council buildings, such a Welbeck House, and in some cases selling them off to raise funds is also being considered.
Cuts have already been made to libraries, playgrounds, school crossing patrols, parks police, meals on wheels and special needs buses.
Coun Govindia said: “Our budgets remain under extreme pressure and further action is required if we are to make the necessary savings in the years ahead to ensure we do not increase the financial burden on residents.
“That is why we are taking steps to slim down the council even further, by reducing senior staff numbers, cutting back-office costs, reducing the amounts spent on running and maintaining office buildings and seeking new efficiencies across all our services.”