Barking and Dagenham Council to slash budget by £72million

The council will spend �10,000 on Nelsa every year it is a member

The council will spend �10,000 on Nelsa every year it is a member - Credit: photo: Arnaud Stephenson

Barking and Dagenham is set for another round of massive cuts with the council preparing to slash £72million from its budget.

Cabinet members discussed plans to cope with George Osborne’s emergency summer budget last night, agreeing to almost half the borough’s expenditure from £150million to £80million over the next five years.

Announcing the plans in the absence of member for finance Cllr Dominic Twomey – who was on holiday – Cllr Maureen Warby, member for adult social care and health, said: “It’s a milestone for us in this administration.

“What’s being predicted is only being able to spend £80million instead of about £150million. This is huge for us.

“We’ll be a totally different council and it will be a huge challenge – we cannot stand still.”

Targeting a balanced budget for 2017/18, the agreed Ambition 2020 programme will take up to two years – involving staff across all departments – and will see the creation of a dedicated strategy and programmes team.

It comes after the Chancellor, delivering the first all-Conservative budget in 19 years, announced plans to cut public sector spending by £17.3bn by 2020.

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But unlike the borough’s far-reaching £53.5million cuts announced last October, chief executive Chris Naylor believes the council has to be more forward-thinking this time around.

“Ambition 2020 is about starting from first principles,” he said. “What can we do that will have the biggest positive effect for our community?

“The real question is not how we cut £70 million – it’s about how we spend our remaining £80 million.”

Alongside Ambition, members agreed to launch a Growth Commission, at a cost of half a million pounds, to asses how the borough’s expansion cane be “leveraged for the maximum benefit of residents now and in the future”.

Cllr Cameron Geddes, cabinet member for regeneration, insisted it was the only option left.

“If we don’t carry out this programme we might as well just hand over the keys to whoever’s left and shut down the place.”