Jobs at risk as Havering faces huge budget deficit

Havering is facing a £16million budget overspend this year due to a “massive increase” of pressure on social care.

Havering Council is now being forced to consider cutting 400 jobs, in an effort to save £7m.

Presenting a report on the council’s medium term budget to the cabinet last night, chief financial officer Jane West said it was the “hardest” budget she has ever had to deal with.

She said: “We have had to do a lot of activity we hadn’t previously done that needed to be funded, we’ve also got a lot of unknowns in terms of levels of funding we’re likely to get from central government”.

Director of adult social care Barbara Nicholls added that the situation is the most complex she has seen in her 25-year career.

She said reasons for the increased pressure include people with complex needs being discharged from hospital earlier than usual and a breakdown of care in the community.

Giving an example, she said: “We had a client in his 20s who lived with his parents but because of Covid all his usual routines were completely destroyed.

“His mum… contacted us about four or five months ago and said she could not cope because his function had been reduced to that of a toddler.”

The client has since been taken into supported accomodation at a cost of £1,800 a month, Barbara added.

Council leader Damien White said a lot of the costs are “almost a hangover from COVID” and that he is working with other London council’s to lobby for more support from the government.

A public consultation on the budget will now run until January 4, 2022.

Josh Mellor

Local Democracy Reporter