Government funding for Ealing Council has hit a record low as it was announced the authority must make £73 million of cuts in the next four years.
The council will have £143 million less to spend on local services in 2021 than it did at the start of this decade, due to public funding austerity measures introduced in 2010.
Ealing Council's cabinet meeting heard on Tuesday (November 14) that this is a 64% drop in government funding, which is a greater cut than both the London and national average.
The council has taken steps to address cuts in central government funding, along with the additional challenges of rising costs and demand for services over the past seven years.
Measures taken include ongoing efficiency savings, staff reductions, re-negotiating contracts, consolidating council assets and increasing income through charges for services.
These challenges will remain in the coming years and Ealing Council eventually expects to have made a staggering £265 million of savings between 2010 and 2021.
Councillor Julian Bell, the leader of Ealing Council, said the cuts come at a time when “demand for services is increasing year-on-year”.
“Seven years of swingeing austerity cuts are causing real pain and mean further cuts are unavoidable,” he said after the cabinet meeting.
“We have a growing and ageing population and demand for services is increasing year-on-year.
“Given this, we have set ourselves an ambitious challenge to review services and find ways to improve them with less money, be creative and innovative including harnessing digital technology.”
On Tuesday (November 14), proposals for £4.5 million in budget reductions and income generation for the next financial year were approved at the meeting.
This includes proposals to delete 38 council posts, charging developers for planning advice, increasing local land charge fees for property buyers and selling park enforcement services to private car parks.
The second round of proposals will need to be considered by councillors early in the new year, ahead of the council establishing its budget 2018/19 in February.
The council has sought to increase investment and boost the local economy in an effort to create jobs and new homes, which has helped increase council tax and business rates receipt.
At the same time as facing staggering central government cuts, the council is experiencing sustained demand for adults’ and children’s social care and housing, which puts pressure on the council’s budget.
'Social care is in crisis'
Councillor Yvonne Johnson, the cabinet member for finance, performance and customer services, said social care is “in crisis” across the country.
“Looking after our most vulnerable residents is one of the most vital things we do, but it is also more costly,” she said on Wednesday (November 15).
“But, we cannot turn our backs on those who need us the most – social care is in crisis across the country and we, like other councils, need a national funding solution urgently.
“Although we passed on the government's social care precept to residents in their council tax bills last year, it simply wasn't enough to bridge the financial gap and meant we had no option but to use the council's savings, known as reserves, to fund the shortfall."
She added: "But of course, you can only use this money once and it will eventually run out.
“We are prioritising what we do to protect the most vulnerable, including trying to keep people healthy and living in their own homes for as long as possible and working to prevent problems like homelessness.
“We also want to build community pride and encourage residents to help look after the borough so that we can protect funding and ensure it continues to be a great place to live, work and visit.”
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