08 Dec 2020
Bexley’s Cabinet will receive an update on plans to balance the Council’s budget for 2021/22 at its meeting on 15 December.
Since the Cabinet’s last meeting in November, further detail has been developed to invest in key frontline services, deliver a balanced budget, and to take account of the latest announcements from the Government at last month's Spending Review. Opportunities to reduce the scale of the Council's running costs through further savings, efficiency and transformational changes have also been explored, along with measures to bring in income.
Cabinet Members and staff at all levels have been working to find alternative ways to close the Council’s budget gap and manage the risks and uncertainty it faces. This has included reviewing staffing costs across the Council and work continues to reduce spending, increase income, and protect services for those who rely on the Council to keep them safe.
The Council has also submitted its application to the Ministry of Housing and Local Government (MHCLG) for a Capitalisation Order, to help fund excess spending, mainly due to the COVID pandemic in the current financial year and the impact it may have on the Council's medium-term finances. The Council would be able to drawdown funds from this facility should they be needed.
Next week’s meeting will be asked to approve reductions in staffing costs, together with changes to the Council’s programme of long-term capital investment and reasonable increases to its fees and charges.
“We are facing an unprecedented financial challenge and uncertainty caused by the devastating impact of the pandemic, but we have a clear plan to manage it,” said Council Leader Councillor Teresa O’Neill OBE. “We will have to take some tough decisions, but we continue to focus on what is in the best interests of local people.”
Councillor David Leaf, Cabinet Member for Finance added: “Many councils across the country face similar challenges, because of the impact of COVID on our spending and income and rising pressures in many demand-led services. But despite the high levels of uncertainty, we have focused on delivering a balanced budget, which this plan does. We have given careful consideration to how we manage reductions in our running and staffing costs, and I want to thank and pay tribute to our staff for their engagement in this sensitive process.
"By reducing our running costs, transforming services and bringing in income, we can continue to give priority to supporting people, investing in frontline services and keeping people them safe. We will continue to keep our financial position under review. monitor the impact of the pandemic and lobby the Government.”
The report to next week’s Cabinet meeting is available on the Council’s website at https://democracy.bexley.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=149&MId=29255.
The meeting will be webcast live and available to watch afterwards at https://bexley.public-i.tv/core/portal/home