Bexley Council removes financial safety net from capitalization


Bexley’s board removed its government financial safety net after an auditor called its latest position “good news” after a turbulent year.

The head of the Bexley council officially announced that the local government had withdrawn its request for funding to the government for the 2021/22 fiscal year, thus removing the safety net.

This signals the board’s exit from a large financial black hole that has threatened services and jobs and only worsened thanks to the pandemic.

With a variance in the budget of several million pounds, in November of last year, the council proposed cutting 150 more jobs from their books, among other cuts, while cuts at children’s centers have been delayed to further discussion after the outcry.

But in February, the local cabinet managed to “weather a storm” and approve its latest budget.

While savings were needed, the council was also one of four in the country to secure a government funding order, which was seen as an effective £ 9million bailout.

The ordinance was to allow additional financial flexibility if necessary “to manage the significant financial uncertainty caused by the pandemic”.

But in a statement, Cllr O’Neill and the board said the funding order should “only be used if absolutely necessary.”

“Thanks to our good financial planning, hard work by members and leaders, we did not use the funding request in 2020/21 and will not do so in 2021/22. We have officially withdrawn our request.

“We will continue to advocate for equitable funding with government. It is vital that these discussions continue.

She added: “The uncertainty surrounding the funding of local governments, the increasing pressures on local authorities and the short and long term effect of the pandemic, mean that there is no room for complacency. and that the hard work must continue. ”

The move follows a financial audit and value-for-money report from the external auditors Ernst & Young LLP, who called the board’s financial situation “good news”.

The update highlighted that savings had been successfully achieved, services invested and that the local authority had maintained financial resilience in a time of uncertainty.

The good news was welcomed by fellow MPs at this week’s public Cabinet meeting (October 12).

Deputy Chief and Cabinet Member for Resources Cllr David Leaf said: “We never forget that it is our hard-earned Council taxpayer dollars that we put back into the services they use.

“When we made the decision to apply for funding, we wanted to make sure we were prepared for the worst.

“Cautious and at times difficult decisions and tighter financial controls that continue today have meant that we no longer need to retain the option of this additional support.”

He continued, “While this is great news, we know that with top-to-bottom guidance across the country, we need to do everything we can to continue to keep our finances stable.

“We will continue to lobby the government on funding issues to ensure our borough gets what we need to run the local services our residents deserve. ”

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