Croydon Council faces drop in grant from Government
DESPITE being around £1 million better than expected, the Government grant to Croydon Council will do nothing to ease spending pressures, which mean the authority is looking to make £36 million of cuts and savings over the next two years.
The settlement, announced last week, still hits the council with a 3.9 per cent grant drop in the 2013/14 financial year, followed by a much higher 8.5 per cent cut the following year.
And as the council sits down to work out the cuts programme in detail, the grant reduction has prompted criticism from council leader, Mike Fisher.
He said: "I remain disappointed that there has not been a fundamental review of local government finance."
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The council has long argued that the inequalities of the present grant system leaves Croydon at a great disadvantage compared with many other authorities in London.
Councillor Fisher pointed out that in neighbouring Lambeth, the council received £700 in grant per head of population, whereas in Croydon the level was less than half that total.
He pointed out that if a fairer system existed it would only take a £100 a head rise in Croydon to wipe out the necessity for the present savings programme.
As it is, the two years of reductions will see a variety of services under threat including care for the elderly, the disabled and young people with mental health problems. The programme could also see nearly half of the council's 26 lollipop men and women cut or out-sourced. A total of 78 jobs may be lost across the council.
Last week's settlement saw communities secretary, Eric Pickles announce the Government would pay an extra grant of one per cent to councils which agree to keep next year's council tax increase down to one per cent or below.