•November Cabinet paper sets out the Council’s financial position
•Spending controls & other measures will drive down council overspend
•Calls for housing crisis to be addressed by Central Government.
Newham Council is strengthening a range of measures to tackle the unprecedented financial challenges facing the borough, ensuring that council services continue to improve and meet the needs of residents while maintaining investment to deliver on the ambition of the corporate plan, ‘Building a Fairer Newham’.
Part one of a financial position paper was presented to Newham Council’s Cabinet in October that set out the financial pressures facing the Council and what immediate actions could be put in place. This week (Thursday), Cabinet agreed the second part of that paper, called the Overall Financial Position 2023/24: Budget Recovery Action, which provided the latest update on the Council’s financial situation alongside steps to offset the forecast overspend of £14.2m.
The paper details a number of actions that the Council will be taking to drive down the overspend across the areas of most pressure in order to maintain essential services. This includes tighter spending controls to ensure that the Council makes the most out of every pound spent, a Temporary Accommodation mitigation plan to monitor and reduce costs and a Council-wide Homelessness Response Programme to support more residents into safe and secure homes.
Mayor of Newham, Rokhsana Fiaz, said: “We are continuing to take swift action to tackle the financial challenges facing our borough, using effective and robust financial management alongside a host of measures that will ensure that vital services continue for our residents while driving down spending across the organisation to reduce our overspend from £14.2m to £7.3m.
“Like other councils up and down the country, the continued lack of action from the Government is having a devastating impact on local government finances. Years of austerity, cuts in funding, high inflation, increased higher demand for key services and the lack of reform to local government funding is stretching our budget like never before.
“Newham, as a borough with a growing population with high levels of deprivation, is experiencing the challenges more than most. There was a 35 per cent increase in the number of households presenting as homeless from February 2022 to 2023, and as a result, pressures in Temporary Accommodation continue to rise. The costs for Children’s and Adult Social Care also remain high.
“In the face of these challenges, the Council’s administration and senior management will continue to do everything in its power to support the people of Newham, working hard to further reduce a challenging overspend and balance the budget. However, without urgent action from Central Government, we will continue to face challenges to deliver quality services for our deserving population.”
Newham continues to work closely with London Councils to highlight to the Government the significant housing challenges being faced by local authorities and what measures they need to put in place now to help tackle the housing crisis.