Councillors take first look at budget options

Merton councillors were today presented with a four year business plan and a list of saving options in order to balance the council’s budget for the next few years.

Last year the Government reduced funding to local authorities by more than a quarter. Around £24million has already been saved on Merton’s budget in this current year. However, to keep vital services running the council still needs to find a further £44million worth of savings over the next three years.

All Merton councillors have now received a full list of budget options which have been prepared by officers. Councillors will now review these officer options and decide which to include in final plans to help the council save the millions needed.

The options being considered range from changing the way services are delivered, getting better deals on contracts as well as reducing and making back office functions more efficient.

Between now and the meeting of the full council on 7 March 2012 council officers, cabinet members, all elected councillors and the independent scrutiny panels will meet many times to discuss all the options, the potential impact the saving could have on services for residents and whether there are alternatives.

Leader of Merton Council, Councillor Stephen Alambritis said:

“We are currently challenging and reviewing everything the council does to ensure that we provide value for money. Unfortunately the size of the budget gap means we cannot fix the problem by efficiencies alone and we will need to make some more difficult decisions.

‘The officer options presented to us today are just that, options, and will be reviewed and discussed in great depth to ensure that the final decisions we make allow us to save the necessary money but also do the best we can for all residents of the borough and to protect essential services for those who need us most.”

To find out more about the budget process and the public meetings of the cabinet and the scrutiny panels please go to http://www.merton.gov.uk/budget