If we needed any reminder of the huge financial challenges that are affecting councils up and down the country, it was the news that Birmingham City Council has issued a section 114 notice – meaning it cannot meet its financial liabilities.

It says a lot when Europe’s largest local authority is unable to balance its budget without help and strikes home the point once again that we need urgent funding from central government to deal with the unprecedented financial challenges we are facing.

This affects every council and we are no different here in Haringey. For over a decade our budget has been cut because of central government austerity.

Add to this the impact of the pandemic, rampant inflation and rising interest rates and you can appreciate why we are facing huge budget pressures.

I want to reassure our residents that we will continue to invest in our key services and provide the best possible care.

Ham & High: Peray Ahmet says that central government austerity has caused cuts in council budgetsPeray Ahmet says that central government austerity has caused cuts in council budgets (Image: Haringey Council)

This year, we invested £17.3m to help cope with the lack of adequate and sustained government funding, as well as soaring demand for social services and rising costs to deliver that care.

However, a cabinet report published this week predicts an adult services deficit of £18.5 million, caused mostly by an even greater demand for high-cost and lengthy care packages.

This figure represents 91% of the total £20.5 million overall provisional shortfall, made up of £17.5 million for adult social care and a £1 million pressure on the housing demand budget brought about by high costs and a chronic shortage of temporary accommodation.

Understandably, debt arrears are also growing because of the cost-of-living crisis.

Despite these challenges, council departments continue to make savings and are already on track to deliver almost 80% of these.

Led by directors, a comprehensive plan to address the shortfall is underway, including ensuring the council gets the very best value out of every pound it spends.

The costs for adult social care take up a huge part of our budget and it is simply unacceptable that this government has not been able to get a grip on funding for this vital frontline service and is leaving it to councils to pick up the bill.

It is clear this year and beyond will be challenging but we will continue to show leadership and work closely with officers to mitigate the budget pressures as far as possible.

  • Cllr Peray Ahmet is leader of Haringey Council.