Multi-million pound savings proposed to tackle council's budget deficit

Cllr Jas Athwal, leader of Redbridge Council, spoke in support of the Met's actions. Picture: Andrew

Council leader Jas Athwal discussed the impact of Covid on setting the council's budget - Credit: Andrew Baker

Redbridge cabinet members approved planned savings of £17million across the next five years in a bid to reduce a forecast budget deficit.

The council estimated in July that it is facing a total budget gap of around £74m in the period up to and including 2026/27.

A deficit of £12.7million is predicted for 2022/23 and £5.7m of savings have been announced to tackle that.

Council leader Jas Athwal told a cabinet meeting on December 21 that work is ongoing to close the remaining £7m gap as well as addressing service pressures.

A total of £16.9m of savings are set out over the next five years, according to a report.

More than £7.5m is proposed to be saved by supporting 700 vulnerable families a year for three years into sustainable tenancies.

A further £3m of savings would come from a "sustainable parking strategy".

Most Read

Cllr Athwal said the budget proposals needed to be seen in the context of the ongoing effects of the Covid pandemic.

"These impacts have financial implications, particularly with income still being below what it otherwise would have been, the end of the housing eviction ban, increasing demand in areas of social care and the list goes on."

The bulk of the £16.9m planned savings are from efficiencies, which Cllr Athwal said made up £11.4m of this.

In the report, the council said its settlement funding from the government has fallen by 58 per cent since 2010  - a total of £87.8m.

Cllr Athwal told the meeting: "There's a lot of good work going on in the background and a lot of good officers working a lot harder and achieving a lot more than 11 years ago.

"Yet most of the services have almost seen no change despite the council funding being plundered by the government year in, year out."

The report said the council's corporate leadership team is exploring other ways of reducing the funding gap, still forecast to be a total of more than £57m over the next five years despite the earmarked savings.

These include a "more ambitious" digitisation of services, a reduction in agency workers and maximising debt recovery.

It is also reviewing the council's operational estate "with a view to making hybrid working the standard working arrangement".

Recommendations were approved by cabinet and the proposals will now be put in front of scrutiny committees.

They will return to cabinet in February, when proposals for next year's council tax levels are expected to be set out.