Wandsworth Council's budget one of the hardest hit in London

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Wandsworth Council's budget one of the hardest hit in London

Postby Community Editor » Thu May 16, 2019 7:26 am

New figures have revealed that Wandsworth Council's budget has been one of the hardest hit over the past eight years.

Analysis by Centre for London looked at how local authority budgets and spending in the capital have changed since 2010/11.

It found that all principal service areas, with the exception of children’s social care, have seen budget reductions, with planning and development, highways and transport and cultural activity budgets facing the largest cuts.

Taking London’s population growth into account, councils have seen an overall 17% fall in their budgeted service expenditure per head, from £879 in 2010/11 to £729 in 2018/19 (excluding education, public health and police services).

Of all London councils, Wandsworth was the fifth hardest hit, with a cut of 25%.

Leader of the council, Ravi Govinda said all local authorities had a part to play in reducing the national debt. 

"So while our central Government grant has reduced, with our prudent and successful financial management, our long term planning and a good understanding of our residents’ priorities, we have managed to protect frontline services, while at the same time as keeping average council tax bills in Wandsworth the lowest in the whole country," he said.

"Despite the cuts in our government grant, we worked tirelessly to keep all our libraries open, expand and improve our most popular and high achieving schools, invest millions in maintaining and improving our housing stock, spend heavily in maintaining youth services, kept our parks and commons and our leisure centres in tip-top shape, our roads and pavements in good condition and our streets clean and tidy, while retaining weekly refuse and recycling services.

"These are the services our resident value the most and the services we have been able to protect and enhance."

Just two councils, Barnet (+1%) and Kensington and Chelsea (+10%) have seen increases over the last eight years.

Silviya Barrett, research manager at Centre for London said more cuts may be on their way.

"There are also concerns that the forthcoming Fair Funding Review will affect the longer-term funding allocations of those councils that have seen the biggest cuts," she said.

“The drive for devolution seems to be stuck. It’s time to give the UK’s distinct localities the power and resources to set local tax levels and raise their own taxes.

“This would put service delivery back on a sustainable path, reducing the sense that local areas are competing for one ‘pot’ of funding.

"Fiscal devolution would also ensure decisions are taken as close as possible to those they affect, enabling boroughs to better shape services to suit their own local needs and strengthen their communities.”

Labour Councillor Andy Gibbons, shadow cabinet member for Finance, said:

“Councillor Govindia is looking at Wandsworth through rose tinted glasses. Our residents don't see enough action on flytipping, dirty streets and broken pavements.

“Children's services have been below standard for years and continue to suffer from staff shortages. The council had to spent £37 million extra of public money to fix child protection failings.

“I'd like to see a leader who will stand up for Wandsworth residents - and stop defending cuts to our schools and NHS.” 
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