A ‘GOLDEN’ legacy was left by Labour before it was booted from power, it is claimed by ousted former cabinet members.
Harrow Council released figures on Wednesday last week to show that last year, the then Labour-run council underspent its budget by £10.8million.
A Harrow Council report described the underspend as a ‘very significant achievement’.
It said: “The council has not only been able to deliver services within the approved budget, but has also contained the pressures arising from the challenging financial environment and the risks around service demands.”
The funds are now in the hands of the rebel Independent Labour group and their council leader, councillor Thaya Idaikkadar, after he and eight other councillors broke away from Labour in May and established a new cabinet.
The cabinet has two Conservative councillors in non-voting roles, though they are not in coalition as claimed by Labour councillors.
Councillor Sachin Shah, who was cabinet member for finance during the Labour administration’s tenure from 2010 until May this year, said: “I am proud to say Labour managed the council’s finances extremely well and have been able to deliver a substantial underspend despite unprecedented challenges.
“A golden legacy has been handed over to this Tory-led coalition. They must not squander this opportunity, but use it to help the people of Harrow.”
The Labour group has issued a four-point plan instructing Mr Idaikkadar on how they feel the money should be used, which includes supporting people affected by central government’s changes to welfare benefits and helping people back to work.
An Independent Labour group spokesman said, however, that the £10.8m figure was ‘very misleading’ because not all of the money is available for general funding.
Harrow Council said it plans to invest £4.8m in efficiency projects to make council services more ‘stream-lined’ in a bid to save more than £24m over the next two years.
This will include making efficiencies in all departments and will result in some jobs being cut.
A deposit of £1m will be put into the authority’s reserves.
Mr Idaikkadar said: “The savings that we have made to date have been possible by the great work and financial prudence of our officers.
“By investing these savings back into projects to further increase efficiency, we will be in a much better position to deal with the ongoing cuts from Westminster.
“These efficiencies will also help to minimise the financial burden on Harrow taxpayers, as we fight to protect the services which mean so much to us all, but particularly the most vulnerable in our community.”
The cabinet is expected to approve the investments at a meeting being held today (Thursday) at Harrow Civic Centre.