Croydon MP ‘fearful’ over Spending Review bite

Photo: Jason Rogers @ flickr

Croydon is expecting cuts to rise to £90 million in the next four years. The average 7.25% grant reduction will, according to the council, ‘present a major challenge with difficult consequences for service users and staff who are already facing a reduction in benefits and a pay freeze.’

Labour MP for Croydon North Malcolm Wicks believes that the newly-announced spending review will affect many public areas after it was announced that the Revenues Support Grant, a form of annual funding given by central government to local authorities, has been reduced by 26%.

He said: “It has certainly been the most influential cut since the 1930s. It will be for the council to judge how this affects the disability sector, the arts and what it will mean for the state our streets.”

He added: “I am fairly fearful about the consequences for Croydon.”

A significant implication of the cuts will be the amount of job loss in the public sector. Wicks said: “The percentage of job cuts could lie between 25-35%. 1400 jobs are estimated to be under threat”.

The extent and depth of the cuts will depend on the finer details emerging in the coming weeks from central government. At this stage, services cannot be entirely protected. While statutory services will be protected by their status, others that are discretionary will be more vulnerable.

Council leader Cllr Mike Fisher said: “Although we will do everything we can to minimise the impact of the cuts, the harsh reality is that we face tough choices about what we can keep running, just when more people will be looking to their council for greater assistance in difficult times.”

The biggest cuts will fall on non-statutory services. One of the first organizations feeling cuts consequences is the Croydon Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Centre. Chief executive Yvonne Traynor said: “ The council will reduce the funding by £3,000 by the beginning of next year. This is what we expected because of the public sector reduction. We are looking for alternative grants and funders in order to replace the council cuts, since our clients have already got enough to worry about.”

In the voluntary sector, Malcolm Wicks saw a major blow. He said that the council had already announced some months ago that they were fundamentally reducing voluntary organization support, adding: “With over 47 organizations receiving support, 41 had their grant axed. Even if the Council has reinstated the grants to three of them, the vast majority still face their grant being cut.”

In the disability and care sector, Croydon Council are hoping that more than £500,000 could be saved through the creation of a Local Authority Trading Company (LATC), which will deliver social care services on a partially-privatised basis.

The council-owned company will deliver some of the social care services currently provided by the authority, but will also be able to trade on the open market and make profits. Any profits and dividends produced by the LATC will be paid back to the town hall.

Cllr Margaret Mead, the council’s Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care, said: “We are building on the success of these services to deliver them in a new way that has the potential to preserve them for the future and make real savings for taxpayers.”

Some cuts are also expected in the educational arena, where hundreds of pupils will face changes such as a planned amalgamation of separate infant and junior schools into single primary schools.

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