Redbridge to ask residents' view on what services matter the most
Published: 7 September 2020
Redbridge Council is holding a series of virtual events to give local people the chance to tell us what services matter most to them and potential ways to make vital savings over the next five years.
Like more than 300 councils across the UK, Redbridge Council has faced years of government funding cuts, and as a result, we have had to make difficult decisions to protect key services that local people value the most. Despite these challenges, Redbridge remains one of the most cost-effective councils in the country, delivering high quality, good value services.
This financial year (2020/21), on top of continuing to grapple with insufficient government funding for the services we provide, we also now face an additional forecast gap of £43m in our current year budget, largely due to the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic response has had on Redbridge.
The government pledged to repay local authorities for their work keeping local people safe during the pandemic. However, we have, so far, received only £18m of the estimated £61m forecast to be spent to keep local people safe in Redbridge. This leaves a potential forecast gap of £43m - equivalent to the council's entire service budget (excluding social care).
The council has also published its Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS), which outlines a forecast budget gap of £83.663m between 2021 and 2025.
In 2021/22 alone, Redbridge Council has to make £25.193m of savings, and we need residents' help to decide where these savings should be made. This gap is a result of inadequate funding to meet the growing needs of Redbridge residents, and the legacy of COVID-19 on the council's budgets.
The Leader of Redbridge Council, Councillor Jas Athwal, said: "The situation we're currently facing is serious. As a result of the pandemic, the UK is on the brink of a hard recession, which will particularly impact the more vulnerable members of society. We've already had to make savings in Redbridge of more than £180m over the past ten years due to government cuts.
"We're now facing an additional potential forecast £43m spending gap this year alone, purely because the government reneged on their promise to repay the extra money we spent keeping people safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"The stark truth is there isn't any more low-hanging fruit to pick from after ten years of austerity, and we will soon be confronted with some difficult decisions. We are now faced with the daunting prospect of making savings and efficiencies to the tune of £83m as part of our Medium Term Financial Strategy, on top of paying the bill for COVID-19.
"It is therefore vital that we hear residents' views on what services matter most to them. We want to make sure that the services we provide meet local needs and support our communities through what will undoubtedly be a turbulent time over the coming years."
Cllr Kam Rai, Deputy Leader of the Council and Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources, said: "The government has put us in an impossible position. We are committed to delivering the services that our residents need most. However, ongoing cuts and now this loss of promised funding means that we now need to make difficult decisions about meeting ongoing local needs this year and over the next five years. I would encourage everyone to attend a budget event and have your say."
Please tell us by what services matter most by completing our survey or attending one of the public sessions.
Public virtual sessions are taking place on the following dates:
The consultation will run until Monday, 7 December.
More than 4,000 people have signed our petition, calling on the government to deliver its funding promise.
People can still sign the petition so we can continue to deliver services that matter most by visiting www.redbridge.gov.uk/protectredbridge