Merton proposes savings in tough financial times

Merton’s cabinet this week (Wed 1 Oct) proposed wide reaching savings across the council in an attempt to deal with a worsening economic situation. Over £3million of savings are being proposed for the coming year, but there remains a gap of £10million that still needs to be closed by the time the Council agrees a balanced budget for 2009/10.

Along with many businesses and members of the public throughout the country, increasing inflation and fuel and utility bills has also affected the council and, along with lower than inflation increases in government funding, have contributed to the tight financial situation being faced in the coming three years. The council’s fuel bills alone are expected to increase by over £1 million next year.

Merton’s 2009/2010 budget papers will not be finalised until after it has been formally scrutinised in the new year, with the budget being voted on at Full Council on 4 March 2009. However, at this early stage the council is working hard on identifying how it can make savings and increase efficiency to make sure services provide the best value for its residents.

Councillor Samantha George, deputy leader and cabinet member for corporate resources said:

“Local authorities across the country, and particularly in London, are facing very challenging financial situations and Merton is no different. With decreasing financial funding from central Government and increasing costs for all our services we are being put into a very tight situation.

“In order that these costs are not passed onto residents and so we can still offer them value for money, we have to be proactive in proposing savings for the long term. Nothing has been finalised yet, but it is clear this will not be an easy budget round for the council. We are striving to put the needs of our residents first whilst continually driving value for money improvements.”


Notes to editor:

Explaining decreasing government funding:

Over the next three years Merton will receive a below inflation and minimum increase in grant 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. 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.