Spending Review: £70 million further cuts at Islington Council

Cllr Andy Hull

Cllr Andy Hull - Credit: Archant

Jobs will be lost as a result of the budget cuts announced in Wednesday’s Spending Review, a councillor has said.

The warning comes as Islington Council estimates it will have to make savings of about £70 million over the next four years because of government cuts to local authority funding.

“Inevitably, as a result of these huge government cuts, there will be further job losses at the Council,” the Council’s executive member for finance Cllr Andy Hull told the Gazette on Thursday.

Wherever possible, he said, vacant posts would no longer be filled. There would also be voluntary redundancies, and compulsory redundancies would be considered “as a last resort.”

“We employ around 5,000 staff and intend to look after them as best we can,” he added. “But we can’t lose a further £70 million from the budget without losing some staff.

“It’s a very difficult time for those working in local government because the cuts rain down from government year after year, and I feel for our colleagues. In the end, though, we need to have at the forefront of our minds our 206,000 residents - and, in particular, those who need help the most.”

The Council, which will set its new budget early next year, has yet to decide where other savings can be made.

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“Our approach is to try to make Islington a fairer place to live and work, which for us means tackling poverty and reducing inequality,” Cllr Hull said.

“So if there are services which speak directly to that agenda, then we will want to prioritise them for protection. And if there are bits of our work that are less directly relevant to that agenda, then we may need to think about whether they should be scaled back.”

Meanwhile, the council has already confirmed that it will be providing communal bins for kitchen and garden waste - as opposed to collecting waste from doorsteps. This move alone is expected to save £1 million.

During the summer, the council ran a successful pilot scheme in which communal bins for garden and kitchen waste were placed in various parts of Tollington ward.

Since 2010 the Council has also saved money by making better use of its buildings to cut costs, and by processing more transactions online. An online transaction costs roughly 32p compared to £7.40 in person.

The savings that need to be made now come on top of £150 million the council has already pared from its budget since 2010.

“Having lost half our budget already since 2010, we stand to lose a further £70 million by 2020 - and any organisation that faces cuts of that scale is going to struggle to provide the same level of service to the same number of people to the same high quality,” said Cllr Hull. “So there are some tough calls we will have to make.”

In the Spending Review, the Chancellor also announced a U-turn on cuts to tax credits and police funding.

“Just weeks ago, the Chancellor was talking about massive cuts to London’s police,” said Cllr Hull. “Our shadow ministers and the Labour leader criticised that approach and we are delighted to see that he has listened and seen sense.”

Islington residents are invited to Leader’s Question Time to ask Council Leader Richard Watts about the choices the council will have to make as a result of the latest budget cuts. The session will take place between 7-9pm on December 1 at Central Library, Fieldway Crescent, N5 1PF.

Although the focus will be on the council’s budget, questions will also be taken on other topics.