Croydon Council to cut services to tackle £1.5bn debt

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Croydon Council HQImage source, Croydon Council
Image caption,
Croydon Council proposes cuts across its services to help with a £60m overspend

A council with £1.5bn of debts plans to cut spending on tackling youth violence and providing transport for children with special educational needs.

Almost two months after imposing emergency spending restrictions, Croydon Council has outlined measures to help it balance its books.

The Labour-run London authority issued a ban on essential spending, known as a Section 114 notice, in November.

A consultation on the proposals to save more than £25m ends on 24 January.

Among the proposals are:

  • Scrapping specialist nursery transport for children with special educational needs
  • Closing some libraries
  • Cutting the anti-social behaviour team
  • Reducing the number of children in care

At a cabinet meeting on Monday, councillors heard details of the draft financial programme for 2021-24.

'Significant jump in borrowing'

The council has £1.5bn of debts - and £7m in reserves. It is planning to borrow £90m over the next three years, according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

Opposition councillor and shadow cabinet member for finance, Jason Cummings, said: "We have got used to seeing increased borrowing year on year for quite some time now but the council's ability to support borrowing has taken a significant hit."

Mr Cummings added: "The capital programme however does commit us to another significant jump in borrowing but the council is effectively at it's limit."

Image source, Croydon Partnership
Image caption,
Construction of the £1.4bn Croydon Westfield shopping project has been repeatedly delayed since it was approved in 2017

Croydon became the first council to declare a Section 114 order since Northamptonshire County Council in 2018.

Council leader Hamida Ali said: "We must deliver our essential services well, and to do that we have to make savings and get our finances back on track.

"We are committed to supporting and protecting vulnerable children and adults, keeping our streets clean and safe, tackling inequality and responding to the pandemic."

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