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Croydon Council boss pledges commitment to retain frontline services


SAVINGS of £33 million, the loss of 100 jobs but a commitment to protecting frontline services are the key elements of Labour's first budget proposals unveiled this week.

Over the next three years, savings will have to rise to £100 million with 500 jobs being on the line.

And there were warnings from the council's chief executive, Nathan Elvery, that keeping essential services intact will become much harder in three years' time if the Government's attitudes towards cutting public sector spending are not changed.

Council leader Tony Newman said local government was suffering pressures on its finances more than any other public service.

In Croydon's case, government funding for 2015/16 financial year has been cut by £19.6 million compared with this year.

Further grant reductions of £16.8 million and £14.6 million will follow in the next two years, adding to spending pressures.

Cllr Newman said: "We have set out to protect frontline services and keep council tax at an affordable level."

He said this, combined with making Croydon cleaner and safer, were the priorities demanded by people on the doorsteps in the run-up to May's elections.

Cllr Newman said that while tough decisions were having to be taken, there was still room to help meet those priorities.

An extra £4 million is being invested in the Don't Mess with Croydon campaign next year.

A total of £124 million will go into school expansions.

On jobs, Cllr Newman said the budget proposals going before the scrutiny and overview committee on Wednesday had identified 40 direct losses.

This is expected to rise to 100 by the time the budget is finalised.

Cllr Newman said job reductions were likely to be largely among middle management.

He said: "We will seeking to protect frontline workers, so we will not be losing people like social workers and street cleaners."

He is hopeful the majority of staff reductions will come from a cutback on the use of agency staff and voluntary redundancies, rather than compulsory losses.

So far, £14 million of savings have been found through what the council calls the Croydon Challenge which is examining how the council provides services and ensuring the most efficient outcomes on their delivery.

Nearly £3 million of this total is coming from a much greater use of online facilities, streamlining the way the council delivers services to customers and moving away where possible from expensive face-to-face meetings.

That saving will be repeated in the next two financial years.

The remaining savings will be met through reductions in departmental finances with the finance department taking the biggest hit with £12.5 million cuts and £4 million each coming from people and communities and children, families and learning.

Cllr Newman said: "I think people will have a choice at the election between a party which values local government and local services or quite clearly a Conservative party that no longer appears to believe in local government."

Croydon Council boss pledges commitment to retain frontline services

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