Jobs, social care, libraries and parks face cuts as Croydon goes for ‘bare minimum’

Croydon Council offices. Pic: A P Monblat

Drastic cuts to local services – including social care, libraries and parks with consequent job losses – are to be implemented across Croydon in a new ‘bare-minimum’ approach to control spending.

However, the Council, which has declared itself bankrupt because of rising debts, says it will not be financially stable until 2024. The council is cutting all spending it deems as unnecessary, stripping spending to the “best quality core services we can afford.”

 The council said: “[It] needs to consider stopping some services and changing the way it delivers others, reducing the number of staff it has.”

Council leader Hamida Ali said: “We will have to do less but do it better. That means we will need to make some tough choices now and concentrate our efforts on services that make the biggest difference for Croydon.”

If approved by the Cabinet meeting tomorrow, Wednesday, the renewal plan will be sent to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government in a bid for financial support. The council will also consult with residents ahead of finalising the budget in February.

The plan comes in the wake of the council’s financial crisis, where they have been accused of being reckless with public money. In a statement, Ali said: “We know some of these choices will be incredibly difficult and we are committed to working with our staff, partners and residents, keeping them informed and involved every step of the way.”

Non-essential spending will be restricted and there will be a block on recruitment of new staff.

Social care sector

While the council aims to “[protect] the most vulnerable residents”, the auditor’s report in the public interest highlighted that they had “failed to deliver real savings in children’s and adult’s social care”, with an overspend of approximately £39m over three years. The council has addressed this, saying: “there is a need to re-assess services and reduce spend, maintaining statutory responsibilities and minimising the risk of adverse consequences for children and families.”

The Council aims to align spending on services for younger adults with the average for London, and spending for older adults at or below the national average. 

Areas that will be reviewed include Croydon’s care of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children. The council will “work with London local authorities to safely transfer responsibility for children in Croydon’s care to reduce the disproportionate financial burden” as Croydon currently cares for more asylum seeking children than it can manage. They will no longer support young people whose appeal rights have been exhausted.

The council aims to reduce the number of children in care, and review the care packages for children and young people with disabilities, however some children’s centers will close. It also proposes the withdrawal of specialist nursery transport for children with Special Needs, but this will not be implemented until September 2021.

Leisure and culture sectors

The leisure and culture sector are expected to face a huge blow, as the council reduces spending to core services. The Museum of Croydon will close to the public for two years and only operate on a reduced service for preserving archives. Library services will also change as some of the 13 libraries will be closed, subject to consultation.

Maintenance of parks will be subject to change, as all current resources for development and maintenance will be merged into one, to include “radical changes in maintenance regimes”. There will also be closures of at least one of Croydon’s three Household Reuse and Recycling Centres, limiting options of where residents can take their household waste.

A review of all council assets has begun, that will be “likely to make a significant contribution to revenue savings over the next three year period”. It has currently covered 35 council owned assets that will be “subject to closure, rationalisation, sale, demolition or redevelopment.”

Read the rest of our coverage here:
Croydon Council declares itself bankrupt in £1.5bn debt crisis
Croydon debt crisis: Council draws up action plan to cut costs
Tories attack shelving of key flood protection projects
Tories accuse Croydon leadership of ‘recklessness’ with public money
Top executives at council housing body ‘to be removed’ down after damning report

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