Croydon is not a happy place. And it is likely to get even unhappier. According to the Office of National Statistics Croydon is the 5th unhappiest Borough in London.
It is likely to remain an unhappy place as the Council is forced by the Conservative Government to continue to make cuts up to 31 March 2020.
The Council faces an ever growing financial crisis with an estimated 75.7% loss of funding from 2010 to March 2020. The cuts from now to that date in the Government’s new 4 year settlement sees Croydon lose 39% in funding.
As a result the Labour administration could face electoral disaster in 2018 unless it fundamentally changes the way it operates.
Rate Support Grant is to drop from £46.80m (2016/17) to £32.58m to £23.30m to £14.70m. (2019/20)
A Top Up grant will see this loss partly met by £33.23m (2016/17) to £33.89m to £34.89m to £36.00 (2019/20).
The Local Share of Business Rates will give the Council £32.73 (2016/17) to £35.20m to £36.25m to £37.41m (2019/20)
So the total funding support will £112.76m (2016/17) dropping to £101.67m to £94.44m to £88.11m (2019/20).
The Cabinet on 10 October is being told: ‘Whilst trying to manage the reduction in resources, demand for our services continues to outweigh the available resources. A growing borough size, changing demographics in the borough, the local government spending cuts and the impact of changes to welfare reform are just a few of the factors that are contributing to this.’
The officers project a Budget gap between 2017/20 of £45.6m.
The proposed cuts strategy (called ‘efficiency’) is outlined to cut between £17m and £30m over the next 4 years, of which between £11m and £19m will be in the next 2 financial years.
You can access the full report through going to the Croydon website and type ‘meetings’ into search box.
Comment: As the Labour administration faces more and more difficulties in terms of cuts to services and increasing inefficiencies of service delivery because of over-stretched and fewer staff, so the backlash from electors will grow. If it is not to lose the local elections in 2018 the Labour Party and the Labour Group of Councillors need to consider:
* A fundamental change in the way they operate.
* More campaigning in order to persuade voters that the problems are due to the Government not the Council.
* Enthuse the new members and the supporters to become actively engaged.
* Stop the top-down dictat approach which is alienating so many people on planning.
* Stand up to the developers who are distorting Croydon with their housing and other schemes that do not meet local needs.
* Reform the Cabinet system to be more democratic and lessening the autocratic power of the Leader.
* End the bullying and side-lining of Councillors who do not agree with Leadership decisions or express reservations.
* Build alliances with organisations across the Borough in a proper partnership way.
* Find ways to increase public engagement other than the narrow digital methods currently being used.
* End the behind the scenes in-fighting over the national Labour leadership and work to convince people that a Labour Council backed by a Labour Government providing investment funds and changing damaging legislation can deliver significant changes for the better in Croydon.
Liberalised un-regulated short-termism capitalism has failed the country and Croydon. It is time to have a Government that seeks to reverse the damage and work towards creating a more social and environmentally responsible capitalism within a mixed economy where there is more public, municipal, social enterprise and community ownership. Can Labour meet the challenge?
The Party needs to hold its own Conference open to all its members and registered supporters on these issues to discuss its strategy and tactics as well playing a full role in the Croydon Assembly on Saturday 26 November.