Harrow Council Budget Consultation 2018/2019

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What is this consultation?

This consultation presents a number of proposals to make savings and earn revenue in Harrow Council services over the 2018-2019 financial year and future years. It is part of an ongoing series of consultations across the Council’s service areas – all of which are making savings and looking for ways to increase income.

Why are you making savings?

The Government continues to reduce its funding to councils, as part of its nationwide austerity programme. Harrow will see its main source of central government grant funding reduced by 97% over a 7 year period, reducing the Revenue Support Grant from £53m in 2013/14 to £1.6m by 2019/20. This funding cut, increased demand for services and cost inflation mean that over the period 2015/16 to 2020/21 the Council needs to fund £125m of pressures in order to achieve balanced budgets in each year.  Harrow Council does not have large cash reserves, and spending them is not a responsible way to offset lost revenue. To be responsible and balance the books, Harrow Council has to make savings, general efficiencies or generate additional income to help fund the £125m.

Why cut public services? Aren’t there better ways to balance the books?

Harrow Council is trying every way it can to increase its revenue. Harrow is now sharing legal, procurement, HR services and special needs transport services with other councils, which is saving money and bringing in income. To boost growth and use its assets better, the Council has an ambitious regeneration programme to Build a Better Harrow.

We made cuts last year. Haven’t we done enough already?

Harrow Council’s gross budget is £558m, but most of that must be spent on housing benefit, schools and other services. The Government has strict rules about how that money should be spent and it can’t be used for anything else. The Council controls how to spend about £168m. This is where all our savings must be found. The funding for local government has been falling for 7 years but demand for services and inflation pressures continue to increase which means that we need to continue reducing our spend every year.

Are all our services under threat?

Definitely not. The Council is actually increasing spending on issues that you have said are a priority. It will still keep our neighbourhoods clean, crack down on violence, look after the disabled, house the homeless and minimise the effect of these savings on people who rely on us. The Council is determined to protect vital public services – and will always care for the most vulnerable in our borough.

Why are you proposing to raise Council Tax?

Council tax does not automatically rise with inflation, but inflation across the UK was 2.8% last year. In addition, the Council has to pay for a growing number of people who need services like social care and housing. This year, the draft budget proposes a Council Tax increase of just under 2%, below the rate of inflation. In addition, the government has invited us to levy an additional precept to fund Adult Social Care. A 1% Council Tax rise equates to around £13 extra per year for the average Harrow property.  Council Tax accounts for 74% of the funding for our £168m net budget so it is a significant element of our funding.

Where did these proposals come from?

In the past four years, almost 20,000 people have given their views about the financial challenges faced by the Council. These proposals have been drawn up based on everything residents, businesses, councillors and staff members told the Council. They have also taken the law into account – there are many “statutory services” which cannot be reduced.

Why are you consulting me? Hasn’t the Council already made up its mind?

The proposals which make up the draft budget have not been decided on. This consultation will help decide whether all the proposals are included in the Council’s full Budget in February.

We think our ideas are the best they can be, considering the financial challenges facing the Council.  Now we need to understand how they will affect you, and find out if you know any better or fairer ways to make these essential savings.

Thank you for taking the time to help us.

 

This consultation has now closed.

Timeline

  • Opened
    8 Dec 2017 at 12:00
  • Closed
    5 Jan 2018 at 23:59

Details