Emergency meeting tonight as Wandsworth Council prepares £43m budget cut
Wandsworth Council must slash an extra £43m from its budget over the next 18 months – taking the total savings the local authority has been forced to make by 2015 to £120m.
An emergency meeting tonight has been called by the finance and capital resource overview scrutiny committee, where the proposals to dramatically cut the budget will be discussed.
Between April 2014 and April 2016, councils in London face a 23 per cent reduction in Government grant. For Wandsworth this leaves a spending gap of £43m.
Earlier this year, the council announced it had “identified” £77m of savings since 2010.
To achieve this the council is proposing merging departments and cutting 55 jobs, including two departmental director positions.
The first department in the firing line will be housing where 44 posts will be cut.
A number of senior finance managers may also be let go, with 46 positions to be axed and 38 created, resulting in a loss of eight posts, while another three positions in the environment and community services department may go.
Front-line services are not immediately under threat, but an ominous warning came in the council’s finance paper which declared that reviews would commence in other services.
Labour’s Rex Osborn, leader of the opposition, said: “We fear the worst is yet to come. Given the Wandsworth Tories’ track record over the last three decades, it is certain many frontline services will be put under threat.
“Over the last three years, Wandsworth Tories have closed care homes, laid off lollipop men and women, and even toyed with the idea of charging children to use its playgrounds.”
Children’s and adult’s services departments will be merged, with housing and environment and community services also becoming a single department.
Environmental services will be moved from this new department to become part of public health division of the administration department.
A final budget for next year, including details of the cuts, will be published in February, 2014.
Council leader Ravi Govindia said: “Wandsworth has a proven track record of providing the best quality local services of any council in the UK – and for the past 30 years has charged its residents the lowest average council tax bills in the country.
“Every town hall in Britain is having to play its role in reducing the nation’s debt and deficit levels.
“We will do this by cutting down on back office costs, selling off vacant buildings, market testing our services, reducing the number of high paid managers and looking at intelligent new ways of generating extra income.”
If the savings are not found, the paper warned council tax could rise dramatically over the next couple of years.
The emergency meeting takes place at Wandsworth town hall (Room 123) from 7.30pm.
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