Message from the Mayor
Protect services (Hackney Today 273, 6 February 2012)
This is an exceptionally tough time for public services. Hackney has suffered another massive cut to the grant we receive from the Government - £17million for the year 2012/13. On top of that there have been additional cost pressures, for example nearly a £1million hike in the contributions we pay for the Freedom Pass, taking the budget gap to £25million.
Despite these challenges, we are able to go into the 2012/13 budget with a proposal that makes no reductions or closures in Council services that you, our residents, receive. We have had to save money, we have had to change the way we deliver some services, and there have been some job losses at the Council - that has been unavoidable. However, the services you receive should not be materially affected next year, and that has been our priority - to protect your services.
So, how have we managed it? That's a reasonable question, when the press is often full of stories about service closures across the country. The past decade has seen Hackney Council make huge annual efficiency savings, cutting senior management costs, and restructuring back office services. The way we have improved services in some areas is actually saving money, for example in Children's Services where our nationally acclaimed work to support and keep families together is avoiding children being needlessly taken into care.
Those annual savings have been used in the past to fund new services or expand and improve existing ones, as well as freeze Council Tax. Hackney continues to look for such savings, but now the cash saved must go into filling the gap created by the loss of Government grant.
By the end of this coming financial year, any savings that can still be wrung out of the Council's administrative and back office functions will be dwarfed by the size of further reductions to our Government grant. We will keep looking for more and more efficient ways to do things, but the fact is, in future years, we will not be able to absorb the impact of Government cuts without services being affected. In 2013/14 and 2014/15 we will need to find up to another £40million in savings, and to make some very difficult decisions. Once this budget is set in March, we will be embarking on a wide-ranging consultation with residents to find out your priorities so as to help us make those decisions.
Jules Pipe, elected Mayor of Hackney
Page updated: 13 Feb 2012