Kingston challenges central government after grant settlement exceeds worst expectations
Kingston to become one of London’s lowest funded boroughs and challenges central government after grant settlement exceeds worst expectations.
After the Christmas announcement by the government to cut Kingston’s centrally financed grant over the next four years, the Council has vowed to join forces with other affected councils to get government to overturn the tough grant settlement.
Councillors reacted with dismay to the settlement which exceeded their worst expectations and criticised the lack of consultation before announcing these stringent cuts.
Councillor Kevin Davis, the Leader of the Council at the Royal Borough of Kingston said:
“We were expecting a tough settlement but this is worse than we could have possibly expected. Kingston Council is not alone and I will be speaking to other leaders of London councils who have also been adversely affected, to lobby government for a fairer deal.
“We were expecting to have to deliver savings of £28.9m over the next four years to 2019/20, but these changes mean that we would need to find an additional £3.4m to balance the budget in 2016/17, rising to an additional £5.4m by 2019/20.
“The Council now has a very short period in which to discuss these challenges with residents across the borough and attempt to come up with some very difficult decisions.”
Councillor David Glasspool, Cabinet Member with responsibility for Treasury at Kingston Council said:
“The recently announced settlement for Kingston creates a very challenging situation for the Council, as our central government support is rapidly cut to zero whilst at the same time the financial pressures on the Council in many areas, such as Adult Social Care, are increasing.
“During the course of this year the Council has introduced a new, community outcome-based budgeting process which has challenged all areas of Council expenditure, with a view to achieving more from less.
“As a result of this speedy withdrawal of government grants and other continued, rising pressures there will need to be more and significant changes in some of the services provided.“We are about to embark in the New Year in a discussion with residents about ways forward, emerging from our outcome-based budgeting approach that tackle these challenges. There will be some very difficult decisions to take now, especially in the light of the recent settlement.”
To find out more see Kingston Conversation and the provisional local government finance settlement 2016-2017.
The financial challenge that Kingston faces is shown below. This charts the increase in costs due to demand-led growth, inflation and also the reduction in resources available to the us. The gap between the red and the blue lines will need to be filled through a mixture of cuts and local taxation.