Croydon Council reveals budget plans to fill £67million deficit

Croydon Council has approved its budget for the next financial year as part of plans to put the borough’s finances back on track.

It comes as the Government recently approved the council’s application to use its capital funds for revenue purposes as part of efforts to fulfil its three-year Renewal Plan.

Minister of state for regional growth and local government, Luke Hall, wrote to the council to confirm that it would allow total borrowing of £120million, with £70million available over the 2020-21 financial year. 

The offer is subject to the council delivering on its newly agreed savings proposals and providing regular updates to the government-appointed Improvement and Assurance Panel.

Leader of the council, Cllr Hamida Ali, said: “Now we’ve set next year’s budget, our focus is on delivering it.

“That means continuing to improve how this council is run, living within our means yet providing the best services we can.

“While setting this budget will take us out of a section 114, our top priorities remain improving the council’s financial discipline through tight budget controls and focusing on supporting local people who need us most.”

Croydon issued a section 114 notice in November last year after revealing a £67million hole in its overall budget. 

Already the council has cut 400 posts in a bid to return to financial stability by 2024. 

Among a raft of other measures, the new budget includes a council tax increase of 1.99%, with an additional 3% precept to fund adult social care.

Accounting for the proposed Greater London Authority contribution, the overall increase will amount to 5.83%, with Band D properties expected to witness a £2 weekly increase.

According to public consultation documents, some of Croydon’s 13 libraries could face closure or reduced services as part of £91million worth of projected savings.

Already, five libraries including South Norwood, Broad Green, Bradmore Green, Sanderstead and Shirley are earmarked for closure as part of a new £500,000 council initiative.

Closed to the public as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, Croydon Museum will now remain closed for the next two years, with a reduced service between 2021 and 2024.

Meanwhile, the council has announced it will sell-off 15 disused sites as part of its medium-term financial strategy. 

The sites, which includes the 210-room Croydon Park Hotel, will be listed in the spring, with bidding open until August. 

Cabinet member for Croydon renewal, Stuart King, said: “The council has a number of sites we no longer need which could bring in much-needed income and reduce expensive running costs if we were to sell them. 

“This strategy gives the council a clearer process around deciding how to get best value for Croydon taxpayers on selling in the right way at the right time sites that we no longer require.” 

Purchased for £30million in 2018, the hotel is one of a number of sites earmarked by council-owned developer Brick by Brick. 

Receiving more than £200million worth of loans, the developer is set to close, completing the final 29 developments by October this year. 

Featured image credit: Robin Webster, Geograph, Creative Commons BY-SA 2.0 license

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