Camden budget cuts: How will the council save £80million in four years?
- Credit: Archant
Camden Council must cut £80million from its budget over the next four years after losing half its central government funding in the chancellor’s latest spending review.
Last Wednesday, the council’s cabinet rubber-stamped a strategy for dealing with one of the largest local government funding cuts since the Second World War, announced by George Osborne in June this year.
It follows an earlier cut of £83million in budget funding from central government between 2010 and 2014 - which the council has successfully met - meaning Camden will have lost £163million in government funding from 2010 to 2018. This is in addition to a £200million cut in capital funding from the government.
To tackle this latest cut the council has earmarked almost £10million worth of savings it will make over the next financial year.
This is set to include council staff redundancies, along with a swathe of back-office cuts and most notably a £1.3million saving through “mainstreaming NHS funding for social care”.
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The remaining £70million cut will be met over the following three years, although specific details have yet to be released.
Council leader Cllr Sarah Hayward said: “The financial challenge is unprecedented. We are confident that under incredibly difficult financial circumstances we can achieve the best outcomes to the biggest challenges ever faced by Camden, which is setting balanced budgets and reducing inequality.”
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But Cllr Keith Moffitt, leader of the Liberal Democrat group, questioned the decision to cut just £10million in the first year.
He said: “They are purposely putting off frontline cuts until after the council elections in May. They are aiming to do the efficiency cuts first and then make the frontline cuts further down the line. When you think about the timing of the election that feels very cynical.”
During the last round of budget cuts the council was forced to make around 450 redundancies but officials are tight-lipped on the number of job losses which will result from these latest cuts.
As part of the four-year saving plan, the council is also introducing a host of new fees and charges from April 2014.
These include a range of brand new fees relating to cemeteries in the borough, such as a £40 fee for webcasting of funeral services and a £100 charge for the installation of granite flower vases as memorials.
There is also a hike to a large number of existing fees and charges for residents.
These include a £50 increase in the price of marriages conducted by the council, while the cost of erecting commemorative benches in the borough will almost double.
Cllr Claire-Louise Leyland, leader of the Conservative group, said: “I think Camden, as local authorities go, are performing very well. I know the Labour cabinet is doing its utmost to mitigate against the challenges we are facing economically.”