I supported Mayor Jason Perry's Budget on Wednesday, which will help get Croydon's finances back in order. You can watch my speech above, or read the transcript below.
Thank you very much, Madam Chairman.
The two Reports In The Public Interest, as well as the Penn Report, contain shocking accounts of what – and who – brought our Borough to this point. Previous budgets were based on fantasy figures, and previous administrations failed to open themselves up to scrutiny.
I should like to take those two facts in turn, and show how we are fixing the finances.
Madam Chair, it is a golden rule of budgeting that you budget for the money you actually have, not the money you wish you had. I would have thought that this was common sense, however the previous Administration proved it's not that common after all.
Labour’s fantasy figures didn’t end when Tony Newman resigned.
Our Opening The Books exercise found that even Labour’s most recent budgets were built on millions of pounds of non-existent money, such as the ten million pound overestimate in parking income. It is our budget that takes the politically difficult decisions needed to fix our finances. The rise in tax is just one of many necessary measures, which also include £36 million of savings, and a multi-million pound transformation programme to improve our services and save money.
We also know that Scrutiny was previously severely lacking.
Interviewee 12 in the Penn Report says that the rest of the Cabinet "failed to speak up even when they could see that things were not right."
Under Labour, opaqueness was King.
But we are fixing the finances in this area, too. With our Opening the Books review and an opposition Councillor as Chair of Scrutiny, the Council’s finances have been forensically scrutinised. And although Councillor Davies might disagree with us politically, it was good to hear her praise this administration for our ‘honesty.’
We have also improved in other areas. I’m pleased that only today for example we published that housing contracts have been offered to three new partners to provide a better responsive repairs service. As the Councillor for New Addington North next to me will know all too well, this service has been too poor for too long.
To conclude, Madam Mayor, this Budget is difficult, but it is based in reality, and that is the reason why it has my full support.