Council sets out how it will make £18m in cuts and ‘efficiency savings’

The council this week revealed 105 reductions and savings that range in size from £5,000 to £1.8m, reports Josh Mellor, Local Democracy Reporter

Waltham Forest Council this week spelled out how it plans to cut spending by £18million over the next two years.

The plans, referred to as “budget reductions” and “tactical management actions”, were revealed in Waltham Forest’s 2024/25 budget, which sets out the council’s spending plans for the year starting in April.

Most of the 105 reductions and actions are summarised in single sentences in a document that lists savings ranging in size from £5,000 all the way to £1.8m.

According to a statement by Waltham Forest’s chief financial officer Rob Manning, the savings were agreed as early as November last year in a bid to close a budget gap of up to £30m over the next three financial years.

Manning said the council is facing “unprecedented levels of demand” on its services – particularly adult social care, children’s welfare, special needs support and temporary housing.

The cuts, some of which are summarised below, will impact a range of services including care and support for the elderly, services for the disabled, temporary housing for homeless families and council departments such as the communications team.

They do not include the council’s voluntary staff redundancy scheme, which aims to save £2.5m.

The cuts include a number of “reviews” of adult social care costs such as financial assessments, residential care, and short-term placements which will save about £4.5m. The budget also reveals a £1.4m reduction in care costs for children by making sure residential care packages are only used “where appropriate”, while the council plans to generate £1.1m by increasing parking fees and other charges.

The council will look for opportunities for “additional commercial return” of about £500,000 by reviewing the council’s 300 properties, which could include selling buildings or “asset-led service transformation”.

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A plan to save £999,700 by “reduction and efficiency” in the council’s housing options and support service, which works with residents seeking help with homelessness, is also included. The council says it is also “reviewing” the operating model for its libraries service including offering greater open access for residents, a move it says will save £550,000.

Ten of the cuts will require consultations, either of council staff or borough residents. These cuts are:

  • Efficiencies from closure of part of the town hall campus on days of low utilisation to reduce asset running costs (utilities and other running costs) – £80,000
  • Review operating model of reuse and recycling centres across the borough – no estimate
  • Review of learning disabilities day opportunities – £400,000
  • Realignment of grant funding for free swimming for over 60s and children – £175,000
  • Review activity and implement new operating model for Fellowship Square and civic events – £140,000
  • Review summer activity programme to ensure better focus of delivery – £100,000
  • Reduction of payments to Capital Letters by using alternative accommodation providers for homes for use as temporary accommodation and to discharge homelessness duty – £60,000
  • Revise the scope of the private rented sector support service – £50,000
  • Fixed annual allocation of community infrastructure levy and neighbourhood community infrastructure levy to area regeneration in place of reserves – £200,000

Councillors are expected to publicly discuss the plans at a budget and performance scrutiny committee on Tuesday 20th February, ahead of a vote by all councillors on 29th February.

The full list of cuts is available to read here, and you can read the budget papers here

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