Budget report reveals how Enfield Council expects to save £16.6m in 2024/25

Youth services and waste collections under review as Enfield Civic Centre gets set to balance its “most challenging ever” budget, reports James Cracknell

Waste collections, youth services, adult social care and Christmas lights are among the areas where Enfield Council is looking to make savings in 2024/25 – with councillors set to debate and vote on £16.6m-worth of cuts and income-raising proposals at the annual budget meeting tomorrow (Thursday 22nd).

After the news last month that the council had found a way to balance its finances, following what it admits was “the most challenging ever” budget-setting process at Enfield Civic Centre, this week councillors will be asked to approve a raft of new savings including both cuts and revenue-raising ideas – amounting to 75 separate proposals in total.

The council’s 2024/25 budget report states “pressures” this year from rising inflation, social care demand, temporary housing and borrowing costs have amounted to £48.6m in total, with only a net increase in government funding of £6.6m to help offset them.

Inevitably, it means council tax will be rising by the maximum amount of 5% once again this year, while there are big reductions proposed to the council tax support scheme – a move which was slammed last week by a local debt expert for the impact it will have on the borough’s poorest households. But even after factoring in rising revenue from business rates, it still leaves more than £16m to be saved either from cuts or increasing various income sources.

A long list of savings proposals included in this week’s budget report shows that hardly any council service is being spared the axe.

Among the largest savings proposals are from “service redesigns” across the chief executive, people, resources, housing and environment departments which are slated to save £819,000, £465,000, £442,000, £272,000 and £1.9m respectively; while others include a “potential substitution of the Meridian Water community infrastructure levy community chest” which is set to save £500,000, improved contract management of “care purchasing costs” which will save another £900,000, and nearly £1m saved from “demand management” changes to adult social care.

The council will also be “reducing spend with the voluntary and community sector” to save £250,000, finding “efficiencies” in its sexual health service that will save £200,000, reviewing various youth services – including Nexus – with the aim of saving £554,000, and making further “operational efficiencies” in its library service of £58,000.

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The cuts come to just under £10.7m in total, but a further £5.9m is being raised from new income proposals.

The biggest single boost to income will come from rising fees and charges – with an average 9% rise across all departments – that will bring in an extra £1.7m. Several changes to waste services in the borough also add up to a significant amount of money, including a proposal to “revert back to charging for replacement bins” which is set to bring in £264,000, and increasing the green bin collection charge from £80 to £100, which is predicted to bring in £200,000.

A review to both the opening hours of Barrowell Green Recycling Centre and the free bulky waste collection service – only introduced in 2021 – is slated to save the council £200,000 and £150,000 respectively.

Finally, the council is proposing to “seek alternative funding for the provision of Christmas Lights” – or otherwise switch them off – to save £140,000, and “remove seasonal bedding and replace with sustainable planting” to save £20,000.

The full list of savings proposals can be found on pages 57-61 of the budget report available here.

Explaining the rationale behind all of the savings, the council says in the report: “The increase in government grant funding is insufficient to meet all of our cost pressures. The council has taken action to control costs through our revised capital strategy, cost control panels in children’s services, demand management in adult social care, in addition to identifying savings and the potential changes in the council tax support scheme and implementing the expected 4.99% increase in council tax.

“These actions have positively contributed to balancing the budget, whilst still recognising that this is dependent on delivering £16.6m of savings […] this is significant, given that since 2010/11 over £228m of savings have already been implemented.”

At Thursday night’s meeting, the opposition Conservative group will table its own amendments to the budget which will then be voted on by all councillors.

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