Merton cabinet presents balanced budget

Merton Council’s cabinet has this week announced a balanced budget for 2009-2010 despite facing a difficult climate of decreasing income and increasing costs.

The cabinet has taken into account the impact of the current financial situation on Merton and will now present the draft budget to the Overview and Scrutiny Commission to be analysed independently. Once this scrutiny process is complete cabinet will agree the final budget and council tax figure to then be presented to full council on 4 March 2009 for approval.

In order to balance the books the council has proposed £6.7 million worth of savings for 2009-2010 and it is already planning a number of wide reaching changes to plug a budget gap of £14.5 million for 2010-2011.

As previously announced closing the gap in the budget will be achieved by a number of methods including reducing the number of job posts and positions in the council, continuing to drive through efficiency savings and increasing fees and charges.

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

‘Presenting a balanced budget has taken a lot of hard work from officers and councillors. The effects of the credit crunch on both Merton’s residents and the council have become much clearer in recent weeks and so have to be carefully considered. As well as taking into account a low level of grant from central government, the council is seeing a decrease in income from chargeable services and an increase in demand for its essential services as more people call on it for support. All these elements have to be incorporated into final cost proposals.

‘The council is determined to do what it has to in order to put its residents’ needs first during the downturn and offer them good value for money.’