Monday, October 30, 2006

2007/08 Merton Tory Budget proposals

The first of many postings to come on Merton Council. I will be posting further updates but these are the proposals that have been made so far. I have enclosed a press release from the Leader of Labour Councillors Andrew Judge.

The first draft of the Merton Tory Budget is now revealed. It does not read well.

Leader of Labour Councillors Andrew Judge said,

“I am appalled by the list of cuts in services, particularly to the most vulnerable. Tories need to go back to square one and start looking for alternative efficiencies and savings. They have no vision, little direction and are revealed as poor managers of the Council’s finances.

“Year after year, the last Labour administration balanced the books and received commendations from the auditors, whilst continuing to develop and improve services. We had one of the highest levels of efficiency savings in London. By way of contrast, these minority Conservative councilors have decided to opt for a comprehensive package of cuts.

“They have been more concerned with vanity projects to enhance their image like using Tory election slogans in the Council’s publicity and redesigning the offices of Conservative councilors at a potential cost of tens of thousands. The only sense of direction they seem to have is to try and blame Labour by referring to a financial £16m ‘black hole’. This is a misrepresentation because no such hole exists. They have simply added the planned level of savings for each of the next two years when the reality is that London Councils should make savings every year. The truth about Labour’s management of the Council finances is that in the last few years we paid off £54m of debt and only last year added £1.9m to the balances to leave £5.69m: the highest level for many years.


Key Reductions in Services:


· £250k saved by tightening of eligibility criteria for low and moderate cases in Older People’s services and Learning Disabilities, introduction of frozen meals service and “restructure/externalisation” of Home Care.
· Stop funding Day Care Voluntary Sector transport (£44k saving)
· Different day care client groups will be required to share transport (£174k)
· End £350 pw ceiling for Home Care (£500k)

· Closure of Bond Road Early Years Centre (presented as “reprovisioning” and not as a reduction in services) (£241k)
· £300k from savings in SEN transport due to early intervention and local provision strategy
· £135k from a reduction in SEN services and move towards early intervention
· £100k reduction in Community & Housing Voluntary Sector grants in 2008/09
· Children’s Centres Grant and Early Years and Childcare Grants being used to offset current revenue expenditure (£200k)

Also appear to be considering possibility of ending ringfencing of Carers Grant (not separately costed)

Other reductions in services:

· Cease work on untaxed vehicles (transferred to DVLA but service levels they will provide are unknown) (£86k)
· Reduced planned footway maintenance by 10% (although may be covered by capital instead) (£88k)
· Reduce street furniture maintenance by 10% (£21k)
· Reduce pedestrian crossing maintenance by 10% (5k)
· Reduce Waste Education by deleting post (£30k)
· Reduction in follow-up of environmental nuisance by loss of half a post (20k)
· Reduction in Environment and Regeneration Voluntary Sector grants (£10k)
· Reduction in Arts Grants to Voluntary Sector (£5k)
· Reduction of Wandle Industrial Museum grant (£5k)
· Possible reduction in Adult Education courses (not separately costed)

Key Increased Charges:
· Increase in Parking Penalty Charge Notice fines (£100k)
· More proactive Parking PCN collection (£150k)
· Increased resident parking permit costs (£28k)
· Increased charges for pre-application meetings with Development Control (£20k)
· Increased parking tariffs in Morden town centre and on street where <30p per hour (£65k)
· Increased charges for leisure services (£30k)
· Increased property rental income – may effect voluntary sector organizations (79k)
· Increased Adult Education fees (not separately costed)

Staffing Reductions:

· 51 definite job cuts (although about 15 of these will be vacant posts)
· Proposed to save £250,000 in Adult Social Services, some of this as a result of “restructure/externalisation” of Home Care.


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