Council kicks off budget with difficult decisions

Merton’s Adult Education is one of the first services to come under review as the council kicks off budget discussions ahead of next year. 

With funding for local councils reduced again this year, the council needs to find £32m of savings over the next four years.  In order to find these savings a full review of all services is taking place.

While the council is fully committed to adult education and a continued service in the borough, reductions in government funding means the council will now need to look at alternative options to deliver the service.

All council services will be affected to some degree, driven by the overall need to find savings, but as in previous years the Cabinet have decided that children’s services and social care for older people will have a lower level of cuts, compared to other services. The final budget will be agreed by all Councillors at the annual budget meeting in March 2015.

Cabinet Deputy Leader, Councillor Mark Allison said: “In light of government cuts to our funding we are reviewing all our services to see whether they can offer improved value for money.  We are committed to continuing adult education in the borough but Merton Adult Education is being reviewed just like all our other services.  We are looking at adult education services across London that deliver high quality courses but cost the tax payer less to see if there are ways we can improve our service.  When money is tight it’s right to ask if traditional ways of doing things still work.  The review won’t be complete until the New Year and no decisions will be taken until then.  Residents know that times are hard but we are determined to continue to balance our budget and keep council tax low while protecting vital services to the most vulnerable.”

The budget process and timetable will be discussed at Cabinet on 20 October. The council’s scrutiny panels will then look in detail at all options for savings over the coming months in order to ensure that the decisions taken are the right ones for residents and the for the council. A report to review the options for the future of adult education will come to Cabinet early in the New Year.