In one word – very!
Croydon’s Labour Council has set out its proposed budget for 2021/22 and none of the news is good. Council tax is set to rise locally by the maximum level allowed (4.99%) by law with London’s Labour Mayor chipping in as well with a whopping 9.5% rise in his part of council tax. This pushes our local tax level to its highest ever rate which is now one of the most expensive in London. All that for the worst level of services being provided.
Every area of council expenditure is being cut back along with almost every charge being increased. You can read about what is happening in more detail elsewhere on our website in other articles by my colleagues but library closures, leisure centres being lost, parking charges hitting record levels, slashed care packages for the most vulnerable and huge job losses among loyal Council staff are just some of the consequences of Labours financial mismanagement.
If all of that wasn’t bad enough there is even worse news when we look to the future. Everything I have just mentioned (as well as many cuts I haven’t!) only brings the councils budget to a balance next year IF the government will subsidise it by £50m! Yes, you heard that right. Add up all of the cuts and increased charges you have heard about and Labour are still £50m short of balance. That means there are another £50m of cuts to come which have not been identified yet. It’s bad now. It’s going to get a LOT worse.
Council borrowing is at an eye watering high of £1.5bn. Labours plans increase that even further. Their predictions show this smashing through the £2bn level in the next few years. It is the taxpayers of Croydon who have to shoulder this debt and we will still be paying for it decades from now.
All of this is down to decisions that have been made by local Labour Councillors. It is NOT just down to Covid-19. External reports by Grant Thornton and PWC have been clear that all councils have been hit by the pandemic but the roots of Croydon’s bankruptcy lay in reckless spending and poor management by the local Labour leadership. Those responsible are still on the council and still being paid from the public purse.
No council in history has dug a hole this deep. No group of council taxpayers has ever been asked to carry a burden this heavy.
It’s bad now. It will be worse next year. And there are another £50m of cuts to come.
I’d love to give you better news but Labour created this mess and they are still making the decisions.
In May 2022 we will have local elections and decide who makes those decisions for the future. It can’t come soon enough.