Budget overspend could put Redbridge services at risk

Redbridge Council services may be under threat as it faces a £15million overspend this year.

Government COVID grants of about £30m are “wholly insufficient” to allow the council to “deliver all its services at the same level” next year, according to a report by council officers.

On October 19, the strategy and resources committee heard about costcutting measures being introduced to “pull back” this overspend.

The children and families service, for example, will cut £880,000 by reducing agency staff and “not recruiting when posts that are above budget become vacant”.

The biggest predicted overspend is in adult social care, where officers expect to go £10m over budget.

The committee was told this is due to “a significant surge” in referrals and an increase in care needs since the pandemic, as well as the need to rely on agency staff, which adds £1.2m to staffing costs.

The vast bulk of a £3.9m overspend by the housing department is attributed to the need to house rough sleepers during the pandemic and temporary accommodation.

Commenting on the forecasted shortfall, Conservative group leader Linda Hugget said the council likes to “put money in different pots” and move it around but warned “there’s only so much you can move internally”.

Progress has also been slow on savings of £25m agreed by council leadership in February this year.

A tracker shows 15 per cent of these savings will not be delivered this year, while a further 40 per ent are considered unlikely.

The proposed savings included allowing large ads on council-owned sites, selling or renting off depots like Ilford Waste Transfer Station and increasing the cost of pay and play sessions at leisure centres.

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Josh Mellor

Local Democracy Reporter