Friday, September 01, 2006

Merton Coucil budget update

After a month where the Council has been relatively quiet in terms of meetings, next week sees a number of meetings taking place within the Council.

The Panel that I Chair, The Way we Work (basically finance and corporate services issue in layperson terms) will be meeting next Thursday and has a number of issues on the agenda. One of the main items on the agenda will be the projected budget overspend for this financial year which is now at £4.7 Million, further savings have already been identified which will bring this down to £3.6 Million (though the projected savings will need to be scrutinized) but this still leaves a significant gap in the budget. The main reason for the overspend is relating to issues in Community and Housing including a large increase in people receiving social care and an increase in placements within learning disabilities.

Issues clearly exist that will need resolving, as a Council our reserves are only £5.7 million a figure that has increased over the past few years thanks to prudent financial management by the outgoing Labour administration. Our reserve level also has to be prudent and it will be clearly necessary for the minority Tory administration to state soon about how they will fund the shortfall. They had plans to re-cast £3 million in the budget this year but it looks like it will be £3 million pounds of savings that will need to be made as their options are limited.

Challenging times lie ahead and I will update further on this matter after the meeting next week.


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