Merton Council agreed its budget for 2019/20 at last night’s full Council meeting (6 March).
Due to funding cuts from the Government, the council has had to make savings of £10m per year in addition to savings agreed in previous years. To balance the budget, the council has also had to increase council tax by 4.99% – in line with the Government’s expectations. This is around £1.12 a week for a Band D property. Nearly half of this increase is the Government precept and to be used exclusively on adult social care.
However, the Council has also agreed not to reduce council tax rebates for low income households, and has decided that our young people leaving care will be exempt from paying council tax from 2019/20 until they are 25.
Despite increasing financial pressures, the council has planned its expenditure carefully, which resulted in:
- The opening last autumn of the brand new state of the art Morden Leisure Centre to replace the dilapidated Morden Park Pools.
- All of the borough’s seven award-winning libraries being kept open.
- The opening of a new secondary school, with a new building in South Wimbledon underway, to meet the increasing demand for school places in Merton.
Merton’s secondary schools all being rated as good or outstanding by Ofsted. The council has also agreed to work in creative ways to deliver services in partnership with other public, voluntary and private sector organisations, and has announced strategic partner grants of £732,000 over the next two years, as part of our overall £9m grants budget.
Adult social care accounts for the biggest share of the council’s budget and services for older and disabled residents are being targeted to ensure they reach those most in need.
Merton Council’s Cabinet Member for Finance, Councillor Mark Allison, said: “We have managed the pressures on our finances by taking a business-like approach, being efficient and innovative, and working in partnership with other organisations ways to do the same things more cheaply.
“Unfortunately, government cuts on this unprecedented scale are bound to have an impact, but our approach has helped us protect services for those who rely on us most – older and disabled people and vulnerable children – and helped make Merton a great place for families.”