Huge financial challenge for Council budget
- 09 Feb 2024
The Leader of the London Borough of Sutton has said that “the failure of the government to honour its publicly stated promise to reform and properly fund social care has left us with having to make really difficult choices” as the Council issues its proposed budget for 24/25.
The draft budget report highlights how, like all other local authorities across the UK, the consequences of years of government under-funding, higher costs, increased demands for social care services along with the rising numbers of people finding themselves homeless, are the key drivers for the Council’s financial pressures.
Commenting on the Council’s proposed budget, the Leader of the Council, Councillor Ruth Dombey said: “In my twelve years as Council Leader, this is the toughest budget we have ever had to put together.
“Despite a track record of managing our finances very carefully over many years, like many other councils, we now find ourselves having to make really difficult choices. Choices that none of us want to have to make.
“It’s particularly hard as since COVID the needs of people needing our support have become more complex, demand is increasing day-by-day and yet our funding is not keeping up.
“We want to be a good, caring council that provides high-quality services to our residents. The shocking failure of the government to fund local authorities properly has now forced us to cut back on services that everyone benefits from so we can continue to support our vulnerable adults and children. We should not be having to make these choices. It simply isn't right.
“Government often talks about the amount of extra funding they provide local authorities. These figures include the assumption that we will increase the amount of council tax we charge our residents to the maximum. So, like many other councils across the country, we have been left with no choice but to put forward an increase in council tax.
“This means that from April, we will be asking our residents to pay £1.55p more a week in Council Tax for an average Band D property - half the current rate of inflation. This will help fund the services we all benefit from like clean streets, our parks and open spaces, libraries, as well as allowing us to carry on looking after those who need our help most.
“We know that many people are struggling with the cost of living crisis. But until the unfair thirty-year old council tax system is reformed and the government delivers on its promise to reform social care, we have very little choice.”
Read the Council's Medium Term Financial Plan 2024/25 - 2027/28.
The London Borough of Sutton’s proposed budget will be discussed by councillors at a meeting of the Strategy and Resources Committee on Monday 19 February 2024. The draft budget will then be presented and voted on at a meeting of Full Council Monday 4 March 2024.