Merton’s grant settlement “disastrous” for residents

Merton Council will receive the lowest possible increase in Government grant over the next three years it was announced last week, in a deal that has been described as “disastrous” for residents.

The council was informed this week that it will receive the lowest increase available to all authorities in England and Wales, and is well below the national average increase, and even the average increase for outer London boroughs.

The details were released at the end of last week as part of the Local Government Finance Settlement. This is the government’s decision about how much each council in the country will receive each year until 2011. It was announced by the Minister for Local Government, John Healy MP, on 6th December.

Over the next three years Merton will receive the minimum increase in grant, with a 2% increase next year, decreasing to 1.5% by 2010/2011. The grant helps pay for essential services such as social care, children’s services and waste collection and is crucial in enabling the council to deliver services to residents.

Along with the rest of London, Merton’s grant increase of 2% is below the average increase for the rest of the country which will be 3.6% for 2008/09, almost double the increase given to Merton. The average for outer London boroughs is 0.9% higher than Merton’s increase.

The Minister also announced that he will implement a new formula to distribute funding for vulnerable adults, young people and children’s social service, that will mean funding will remain at the lowest level for years to come.

It has been estimated by London Councils that the new Personal and Social Services formulae will take away £420million away from the capital’s social services, directing these to the north of the country, before floor damping. It is claimed that this will further penalise the most vulnerable Londoners.

Councillor Samantha George, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance, said:

“This settlement is disastrous for the people of Merton. Along with many authorities in London, we’ve been hit with the double whammy of the minimum grant increase and the proposed cut in social services funding.’

“We’ve already made £7m in efficiency savings as we strive to be fitter, faster and more focused on our residents needs. But we now face even harder choices because of the settlement we received last week.”

Notes for Editors
According to London Councils, for the next three years the vast majority of London boroughs will receive the minimum increase in grant.
The increase in formula grant for London is at 2