Uncertainty around Brexit makes it difficult for the borough council to plan
Merton Council says it will have to make five times more savings than expected, partly caused by uncertainty around Brexit.
On Monday night (October 14) Councillor Mark Allison updated his cabinet colleagues on changes to the level of savings the council will have to make over the next four years.
The cabinet member for finance presented the council’s Business Plan 2020-23.
Councillor Allison said: “Residents understand that these have not been easy times for local authorities but I think there’s a level of satisfaction in the community and pride that Merton is a great place for families and everyone who lives and works here.
“By working in a business-like way we’ve been able to deliver a new leisure centre and a new library in Colliers Wood and maintain services that other local authorities have struggled with.”
But he went on to say that it is a hard time for local authorities and a “difficult period for the country”.
In March this year it was anticipated that the council would need to make £1.1 million of savings in 2020/21 and this would rise to £7.6 million by 2023/24.
Councillor Allison added: “After going through all the calculations of what has happened in the meantime our current estimate is £5.1 million, a five-fold increase in savings that are required in the coming year. Rising to 19.9 million by 2023/24 which is a trebling of the amount that we need to say.
“There’s an enormous amount of uncertainty, we had anticipated that the government by now would have told us what the multi year funding settlement for councils would be but they have only given this for one year which makes it very difficult to plan for.
“And the proposals for Brexit are going to have an enormous impact on the country’s economy and the resources available for the public services that we provide.”
He added that although savings could be as much as £19 million the current figures do not include money generated from business rates, as the percentage local councils will be able to keep of these is not yet known.
By Tara O'Connor, Local Democracy Reporter
October 21, 2019