The council’s cabinet is to consider immediate savings proposals to reduce costs this year and to ask for government support as it develops plans to deliver a council that is financially resilient and sustainable in the future.
The strategic finance review paper published today ahead of Monday’s meeting states that the annual budget, agreed by council in March before the pandemic, is no longer balanced or deliverable and asks members to approve a programme of further in-year savings for 20/21.
Cabinet are also asked to approve the development of the Croydon Renewal Plan, which is the programme to create a financially sustainable budget over the next three years. This plan would be submitted to Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) in November asking for their financial support.
The council’s budget in March set out plans for savings and an increase in the borough’s levels of reserves. However, the Covid-19 pandemic has led to a reduced level of income, increased costs and the consequent inability to deliver 65% of the savings that were approved in the 2020/21 budget.
The council has since identified over £27m in urgent savings and it also began the consultation process around a 15% staffing reduction. However, the council still currently faces a £22m budget gap.
The £27m savings package includes charging for free bulky waste collections, a review of discretionary care packages in adult social care, a review of children’s centres and an increase in parking charges.
The report also suggests an immediate review of the capital programme with a view to reducing borrowing costs, and a strategic review of council’s group of companies and other entities, including Brick by Brick, Croydon Affordable Homes, the Growth Zone and the Revolving Investment Fund.
“Our aim has always been to do the best for our community and help all those in need, but the impact of Covid-19 means our financial challenges are now unsustainable and we are unable to deliver the budget council agreed before this pandemic.
“There are going to be some tough choices – ones no one wants to make. However, we are determined to protect priority services for our residents and to involve them in the process as much as possible as we remodel our council for the future. We will be asking government to support us in this, to give us time and space to deliver our plans.”
Councillor Tony Newman, leader of the council