Croydon Council has agreed its budget for the coming year with a focus on more savings, strong financial discipline and maintaining core services for residents.
On Monday, Croydon set its 2021-22 budget, which will continue supporting residents in need while reducing costs, improving the way the council is run and making it financially sustainable.
The budget was approved after Croydon accepted a government offer made last week for a capitalisation direction of £120m – £70m in 2020-21 and £50m in 2021-22. This is conditional on the council delivering its renewal improvement plans and regularly updating a government-appointed Improvement and Assurance Panel on its progress.
The council requested a capitalisation direction in December to support its three-year Croydon Renewal Plan, which maps out proposals to find further savings, bolster reserves up to around £37m, and strengthen its governance and financial practices.
The budget will give priority to supporting high numbers of adults and children in need, keeping the borough’s streets clean and safe, and addressing funding gaps caused by the demands of tackling the Covid-19 crises, which has already cost Croydon over £46m.
Next year’s approved budget includes a 1.99% council tax rise for Croydon services, and a 3% precept to look after the borough’s elderly and most vulnerable residents, which is what government is expecting in local authorities’ spending calculations.
Along with the proposed Greater London Authority contribution, this means an overall increase of 5.83%, with an ‘average’ Band D property’s household paying an extra £2 per week.
The budget setting comes after the council considered over 1,800 responses in December and January to a residents’ consultation, which sought their views on the borough’s savings proposals for the next financial year; and in particular to understand the impact they might have and to ask for their ideas. These will help to inform the council’s savings plans, which will continue to be shaped based on local priorities.
Once the capitalisation direction is in place, Croydon will be able to balance its 20/21 budget and remove its section 114 notice, which has barred non-essential spending since November. However, the council will continue self-imposed spending restrictions as part of its renewal plans.
“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. It also means finding further savings, improving our financial practices and doing everything we can to put our finances on a sustainable footing.
“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.”
Councillor Hamida Ali, leader of the council