Waltham Forest Council faces £13.5m overspend

Waltham Forest Council must find more ways to cut corners as it faces a predicted budget gap of £13 million this year.

Halfway through the financial year, the council revealed yesterday it is already £9.5 million over-budget.

Much of the gap is due to increased pressure on family-related services, although all areas of the council’s work are feeling the pinch.

Announcing the six-month budget monitoring report before cabinet today, council leader Cllr Grace Williams repeated her recent call for the Government to give the borough a “fair deal” in funding.

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She said: “I think it’s really important to note that the past 18 months have been really tough for people in Waltham Forest and we know that has affected people in different ways.

“It’s important to underline the impact pandemic is having on children in the borough, we now have almost half our children living in poverty and we know that many more families are struggling for housing costs.”

The report talks of widespread uncertainty around national Government finances and whether there will be further lockdown restrictions.

Despite the “financial exposure”, officers said the council is “unlikely” to be in danger of going bankrupt as it has savings it can fall back on.

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In a recent letter to Chancellor Rishi Sunak, Cllr Williams pointed out that, in 2014/15, the borough “had the largest gap in London” between its funding and “the assessed level of need”.

Her letter, sent on October 27, argued that “nothing has been done since then to close this gap”.

The council has largely succeeded in making £11million in cuts this year, falling short by only £937,000.

The cabinet agreed to keep looking for ways to reduce the overspend and to potentially use “corporate resources” to balance its books at the end of the year.


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