Islington looks to social care cuts, rent rises, voluntary redundancies to balance books

Without savings, town hall number crunchers are predicting a gap of £25m in the next financial year – and £59m by 2026.

By Julia Gregory, Local Democracy Reporter

Islington Town Hall
Islington Town Hall. Photo: LDRS

Islington Town hall bosses need to save £10.9m to balance its books next year.

Islington council is also planning a further £8m of savings between 2024 and 2026.

Without savings, town hall number crunchers are predicting a gap of £25m in the next financial year – and £59m by 2026.

Details of proposed savings will be pored over by councillors who sit on the policy and performance scrutiny committee this coming Thursday (January 25th)

Executive member for finance, Cllr Diarmaid Ward, said the council will continue investing in frontline services: “This includes protection of free school meals for every primary school pupil, keeping our libraries open, maintaining weekly recycling and rubbish collections and a regular street sweeping programme.”

The council blames its financial headache on rampant inflation, austerity cuts and other factors, including the fallout from the covid pandemic.

Cllr Ward said: “The budget setting process for the 2023/24 financial year has been particularly challenging due to the national cost-of-living and energy crisis, and great economic and political uncertainty.”

The savings package could see £2m trimmed from adult social care – with another £2.5m by 2026.

It includes using a new seven-day recovery package for people discharged from hospital to reduce the need for on-gong home care.

The package of savings also features a “refresh” of older people’s day services which the council hopes will cut the need for daytime homecare.

The environment budget could also see £1.7m savings in the coming financial year and a total of £3.7m by 2026.

They include better chasing of penalty charge notice debts and saving money by removing parking machines which do not work.

It also hopes to save £2m this year through voluntary redundancies and business efficiency.

Rents will go up 7 per cent next year, so tenants paying an average weekly rent will have to pay an extra £8.44 a week, increasing it to £125.95 a week.

Council tax will be capped at the maximum of 4.99 per cent – the highest a council is allowed to put it up without asking residents to vote over the move.

This means a £1.26 a week increase for Band D properties excluding the portion of council tax residents pay to the Greater London Authority for services, including police and fire.

The Green opposition party will put forward its alternative budget proposals in the spring.

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