Merton Council Proposes Further Cuts To Services

It needs to find at least £15m in savings

Merton's council services are facing further cuts to help it meet at least £15m worth of savings needed to balance its budget before 2020.

Proposed savings of nearly £6m have already been identified and presented to the council's cabinet for consideration before going to the council’s cross-party scrutiny panel for comment.

Merton based the proposed budget on delivering a sixth consecutive council tax freeze for all residents, including those on low incomes.

But services threatened with cuts include South Thames Crossroads Caring for Carers service, which it proposes to decommission to save £294,000. It also proposes ending the Meals on Wheels contract, which will save £153,000. Both services could be supported by the voluntary sector, according to a report prepared for the council.

Merton council says that since 2010, government has cut 40% from local councils' funding, which inevitably means there will have to be further cuts made to local services. It also warns that the £15 million in savings needed to balance the budget may increase following a further announcement expected by the Chancellor in December.

Leader of the council, Councillor Stephen Alambritis said: "These are very tough times and we will continue to take a business-like approach in planning our finances and rigorously explore the most cost effective ways to deliver services to our residents.

"Although we are being forced to make savings in all areas of the council, we are committed to ensuring our children, young people and vulnerable adults take a lesser share of the cuts than other areas of the council."

Councillor Suzanne Grocott, Shadow Cabinet member for finance, said: "The government was given a mandate in May to get rid of the deficit and move to a high wage; low tax; low welfare society. This involves tough choices.

"Unfortunately Merton's Labour councillors spend too much time praising themselves and blaming the government rather than really getting to grips with council inefficiency. The vulnerable are suffering because Merton has not delivered their own efficiency savings so now Labour are choosing to cut frontline services for older and disabled residents instead."

October 30, 2015