The Town Hall faces a funding gap of £60 million over the next three years – even if it raises council tax by 2.5% per year.
Recent cuts to the council’s funding from central government, combined with Hackney’s failure to raise council tax in line with inflation for five years in a row, has placed the local authority in an invidious position.
The projected gap between what the council spends and what it receives is based on the assumption of 2.5 per cent annual increase in council tax over the next three years.
The recently-released Medium Term Planning Forecast shows that the council will have to make over £23m worth of savings next year (2012/13) to balance its books. A further £13m of savings will have to be made in 2013/14 and £23m in 2014/15.
It remains unclear, however, how the local authority will continue to deliver the services it provides on a reduced budget.
Mayor of Hackney Jules Pipe conceded that this would be difficult: “Hackney’s sound financial management means that we have so far been able to protect services from the impact of government cuts. Whilst we have had to adapt the way we deliver some services, residents should have experienced very little change.
“The coming years present a far greater challenge. There is no way of doing this without impacting on the services residents receive, but we have to focus on our priorities: supporting the most vulnerable residents, and ensuring that the borough remains clean and safe.
“We may have to do less but we need to concentrate on the quality of what we do, and on finding new and more cost effective ways to deliver those services.”
The council has initiated the process of identifying areas where cuts can be made. Discussions at a recent council meeting (5 September) indicated that adult social care may be one of the first areas to be targeted.