You may have seen that today the council took the incredibly difficult step of issuing a Section 114 notice. This is a legal notice a council has to issue when it thinks it’s on track to spend more money than it has and cannot balance its budget in year.
When I became Leader of Croydon three weeks ago I promised a new more open approach which offers the decisive leadership needed to tackle the problems we face them head on.
That’s why today we are not only publicly accepting the seriousness of our financial position, but we have also published our Action Plan to address many of the problems identified by our auditors.
The Section 114 notice means that the council will now freeze all new non-essential spending – this won’t affect our current services but will mean new spending is limited. We will also continue our urgent work on a new more sustainable long term budget for the council.
The financial problems the council is facing have multiple causes, and while a decade of austerity, historic underfunding and the Covid-19 crisis have had a major impact on our finances we’ve got to be honest, the council has also made mistakes.
Our situation means that we will need financial support from Government to get through the coming year. We’ve made clear to them and are waiting for their response – todays Section 114 notice is a part of making that case.
We’re not going to fix these problems overnight and there will be difficult decisions ahead but I want to reassure local people and you as our partners that the council will still be here to support you.
My priority is rebuilding a financially sustainable organisation, which provides the value for money and high-quality services that residents deserve and I am confident we will achieve that.
Action Plan to address the Report in the Public Interest
Alongside today’s Section 114 notice we have also published an action plan which sets out how we plan to respond to each of the issues raised in the recent Report in the Public Interest (RIPI). You can find the full action plan here.
The Council will be holding a full debate on 19 November to discuss the Report in the Public Interest and to agree the action plan. Due to Covid-19 restrictions this meeting will be held virtually but it will be webcast live on our website.
Finally, I want to say I know how difficult and worrying the recent news about the Council’s finances have been for partners and the residents we all serve.
I’ve lived in Croydon all my life so I know how angry local people will feel that the council has got itself into this place. My job is to take the action needed to turn it around and I can absolutely reassure you that my absolute priority as the council’s newly elected leader is to put this right.
I will keep you updated as we progress this work but in the meantime, please do get in touch if you have any questions. As always, I want to thank you all for all your much-valued support. This is a difficult time for Croydon, but together we will come through it.
Cllr Hamida Ali
Leader of the Council
11 November 2020
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