Stark warning over impact of new Government cuts on Islington

Councillor Richard Watts

Councillor Richard Watts - Credit: Archant

The town hall finance chief has issued a chilling warning a further £20million could be slashed from Islington’s already decimated cash flow.

On Wednesday, the Chancellor George Osborne will unleash his latest spending review for the financial 2015/16 and Cllr Richard Watts, Islington Council’s new executive member for finance, says the borough could face a reduction of up to £21million on the money it receives from the government.

The extent of the damage, which won’t kick in for two years, should become clear by the end of next week, but Cllr Watts estimates at least £5million and potentially four times as much could be cut from the council’s budget, which has already been hacked down by £120million.

He said: “This is a big deal announcement. Depending on how much Islington gets compared to other councils we could be looking at between five and £21million

“We’ve had about a third of our budget cut and managed to save the money through being more efficient. I think we have done a good job so far protecting front line services, but it can’t go on indefinitely

If this government continues with this economic suicide we are going to have some very serious problems in the borough.

“None of us became councillors to cut things, but soon we will be put in very difficult position.

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“This government needs to change course. It’s worth bearing in mind there weren’t meant to be cuts this year, the budget was meant to be balanced. This is now the price we are paying for economic failure.”

Cllr Watts refused to be drawn which services might be affected were the cuts as large as is feared.

“We are not talking worst case scenarios yet,” he said. “And it’s difficult to say how close we are to the edge. We can’t write the budget for 2015/16 and we still have two years to prepare and we are committed to trying to protect front line services.

“But this is bad news for Islington. Along with cuts to the NHS, social security, police and fire service, we could be looking at very major problems down the line.”