Barnet Councillors were shocked to be told at last night’s Policy & Resources Committee (P&R, 24 Sep) that the Council’s budget gap over the period 2021-25 had ballooned to £61 million from £36 million in June.
Much of the additional £25 million gap in funding is due to the cost of Coronavirus.
In June the budget report stated that “without additional levels of funding, the council will move into significant risk of being unable to remain in balance should the period of disruption [from Covid19] sustain.”
Last night’s budget report sets out that there have been no new announcements on additional local government funding, but that the revised forecasts for growth, inflation and employment over the short-medium term were worse than a year ago.
It says: “This year, more than ever, the assumptions are more difficult to quantify, and the extent of Government’s support is still not known.”
At the June P&R meeting Labour Group Leader, Cllr Barry Rawlings, pressed the Chief Finance Officer to specify when the Council would run out of money if things remain as they currently are with no additional funding, income or savings, and the reply was in 2021/22.
Leader of the Barnet Labour Group, Cllr Barry Rawlings said:
“The Tory Government have broken their promises to bear the cost of coronavirus, and the hard-pressed people of Barnet are being left out of pocket, with millions in extra cuts to stretched services. Bins aren’t being emptied, the streets are dirty and our adult social care services are on the brink. You just cannot trust a Tory promise.
“In the coming months we are going to see yet more services cut, and yet more fees and charges. This isn’t what Boris Johnson promised when he said austerity is over. The fact is austerity has barely begun.
“With the Council’s financial position worsening, and no news on extra funding to cover the costs of Covid-19, the prospect of going bust still looms.”
- A copy of the budget report can be found here (Agenda Item 8): https://barnet.moderngov.co.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=692&MId=10198&Ver=4
- For more on the June budget report see: https://www.barnetlabour.org.uk/2020/06/18/covid-costs-council-could-go-bust-in-2021/
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