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Croydon’s woes could take years to fix, report warns

Troubled Croydon Council has published the details of its financial recovery plan and warned it could take years to put the borough on a sustainable footing again.

The council’s cabinet is due to meet tomorrow (25 November) to discuss the proposals, which would enable it to become a financially sustainable council by 2024.

The London borough is facing severe financial problems and earlier this month issued a section 114 notice, which halted all new non-essential spending at the local authority.

The new plans will mean Croydon will stop delivering some services and reduce the number of staff it has in order to balance the books.

The report also outlines the scale of the problems at Croydon and warns that the type of systemic change it needs to make ‘will take a number of years’ if it is to become financially sustainable.

It says that along with many councils in England, Croydon has experienced a ‘challenging financial period’, following cuts in the central government funding it receives.

But the report also admits the London borough has ‘faced further difficulties from its own decisions on expenditure’.

These include borrowing £500m since 2016 for a number of investments, which have ‘increased the council’s liabilities and risk exposure’, according to the report. According to the report, Croydon now has one of the lowest level of reserves in the country at £7m on an annual expenditure of approximately £300 million.

It also notes that ‘structural deficits in the children’s social care and adult social care budgets were not addressed in a timely fashion’ year on year, which then manifested as significant overspends at the end of each financial year.

‘We know some of these choices will be incredibly difficult and we are committed to working with our staff, partners and residents, keeping them informed and involved every step of the way,’ said council leader, Cllr Hamida Ali.

‘We will not be able to fix these problems overnight – this is going to be a long-term process and that’s why we want to be clear about what we need to do and the support we need to get there,’ she added.

‘Most importantly, we cannot do this alone. Croydon’s greatest strength lies in our community and partnerships. We want to work with all our staff, members, our partners across the public, private and voluntary sectors and residents, so that together we can deliver the services that Croydon’s residents need.’

Photo Credit – Stevepb (Pixabay)

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