Council tackle biggest financial challenge in over a generation

Camden council is preparing to tackle the biggest financial challenge in over a generation. As it enters an era of unprecedented cuts from national government, the council today (Wednesday 6 October 2010) calls on the community to unite together and tackle the deficit.

 

In a bid to raise public awareness, new online information pages, including a guide to the scale of the financial challenge has been launched on the council website.

 

The council faces two major challenges. The need to make yearly revenue savings. These are savings in the costs to our services like employees, supplies premises and utility costs. Secondly, it faces the challenge of meeting the costs of its capital investment programme. This is money needed to improve and invest in Camden’s infrastructure, including Camden’s roads, schools and buildings.

 

Over 60% of the money used to fund council services comes from national government grants. Only 9% is raised through council tax. The council estimate that cuts in national government spending will impact severely on the ability to deliver services. It will leave a gap of £80 to £100 million over the next three years.

 

In preparation for this funding fallout the council are working to support those in greatest need. In a bid to protect vital services, it will be forced to look at other proposals for saving money. This includes the feasibility of increasing some fees and charges in order to help protect frontline services.

 

The reduction in national government money allocated to the council’s capital programme is also a serious issue for the council. The government recently announced it would significantly scale down the building schools for the future programme. This has resulted in the loss of £167 million for vital infrastructure works.

 

In a bid to find money to improve Camden’s infrastructure including schools and buildings the council has recently undertaken a ward-by-ward review of its property and assets. Camden is fortunate to have a property portfolio and asset base in central London. In order to invest in vital repairs to schools and housing it will be forced to make tough choices about the future of these assets. The council will be consulting on this process very shortly.

 

The council has already started to make some headway to tackle the deficit. An efficiency programme making town hall savings of £30 million is underway. The programme involves moving more of the council’s administrative processes online, improving the way the council buys goods and services and the review of management structures.

 

It is also seeking to reduce costs by sharing services with other boroughs. Camden has started groundbreaking steps of discussing sharing chief officers with Islington and a report is to be drawn up for public consideration in January.

 

Councillor Nash Ali, Leader, Camden Council, said: “We are having to fundamentally rethink the way Camden delivers services. We are working to keep council tax as low as possible and looking at where services can be reorganised to support those in greatest need.

 

“However, we have to face reality, the nature of government cuts means there will be an impact on the services people receive. We want everyone to understand the grim financial picture we face and work with us to tackle the challenges and the changes ahead.”

 

The council is talking and listening to residents and community groups about how best to face the tough financial challenges together. It will be sharing options and choices about services soon, including where services could be delivered differently, cheaper or sometimes even not at all.

 

Councillor Theo Blackwell, Cabinet Member for Finance, Camden Council said:”The financial outlook for Camden is the most challenging in over a generation. We will respond pragmatically to the big events that lie ahead. It will not limit our ability to be proactive and move forward with the big discussions about shared services and working in partnership with other organisations. “

 

Further information about the big financial challenge including upcoming events and consultations visit camden.gov.uk/budgetcuts

Contact info

pressoffice@camden.gov.uk
Reference code: PR 1278
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