CROYDON IN CRISIS: Cash-strapped council is facing another busted budget, according to latest estimates. By STEVEN DOWNES
Less than six months since Croydon was handed the biggest bail-out in history, following the authority declaring itself effectively bankrupt, and the council is already heading for another budget deficit, possibly by as much as nearly £4million.
According to latest estimates, the council is forecast to overspend its budget by the end of the 2021-2022 financial year by £590,000, even after taking into account use of the covid-19 grant from the government.
Officials at Fisher’s Folly have also identified further risks to the council’s budget which leave a potential overspend of as much as £3.7million by the end of 2021-2022, according to a report in The Municipal Journal.
Even the smallest of overspends will come as a huge embarrassment – maybe worse – to recently confirmed council CEO, Katherine Kerswell, and her newly installed team of exec directors, as they have their work on the council’s finances checked and double-checked by Tony McArdle and his “improvement board” of government-appointed commissioners who were supposed to prevent this kind of thing happening.
The improvement board was installed earlier this year as part of the conditions of the £120million bail-out agreed by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government – £70million to get Croydon out of the hole created last year and a further £50million for this financial year.
Further cash help from central government is conditional on winning the approval of McArdle and the Ministry.
According to The Municipal Journal, “Reduced income from parking and increased costs of special education needs transport have contributed to the financial difficulties, in addition to planned savings totalling £1.7million now being in doubt.”
Getting top-dollar in the fire sale for the likes of Brick by Brick and the College Green development site is likely to have become an even greater priority for Kerswell and her finance director, Chris Buss.
Read more: Council Tax-payers pay for politicians’ game of cat-and-mouse
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Read more: Council handed biggest bail-out in history
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