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Camden Council 'in fear' of next round of cuts to borough spending by central government

PUBLISHED: 08:20 21 December 2018

Cabinet member for Finance and Transformation Richard Olszewski is standing for Fortune Green again in May's elections

Cabinet member for Finance and Transformation Richard Olszewski is standing for Fortune Green again in May's elections

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Camden Council's finance chief has said the borough "fears" what Theresa May's government will do to council funding next.

Cllr Richard Olszewski said the council’s annual budget was now £169million lower than in 2010. And he said he “dreads” putting the budget together because the town hall is never sure what Westminster will do to local government spending.

“We are in constant fear,” the Fortune Green councillor said.

His comments come in the week after the latest Local Government Finance Settlement, which appears to have few benefits for Camden.

“It’s largely things that were announced in the budget,” he said. “There’s £1.1m for our capital budget and £1.4m from a surplus on the government’s business rates account. It barely touches the sides.”

The day before last week’s announcement by the government, Camden’s Council’s cabinet heard Cllr Olszewski’s medium term financial strategy. The strategy details how Camden is looking to plug a gap of between £35m and £40m before 2021/2022.

It will increase council tax by 3.99 per cent next year to help generate extra revenue, with 1pc of the rise going towards the adult social care budget.

There is also a number of cuts planned to council spending over the next three years, including saving £1.5m by cutting down on agency and temporary staff, and £500,000 from a potential reorganisation of senior staff.

“It’s getting progressively worse and more difficult, and each year we’re getting squeezed more, and we’re having to try and fund a gap,” said Cllr Olszewski.

Brexit also poses a potential serious financial challenge for the town hall, with a council report in 2017 spelling out how Camden’s economy could be damaged by the UK leaving the European Union.

“We’re the same boat as other organisations and businesses that it’s the uncertainty. We need to know what will happen on March 29,” he said.

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