There can be nothing more important than protecting the most vulnerable in our society and I believe that this is something that we can all agree on. Sadly, that is where our agreement with Croydon’s failing Labour Administration begins and ends.
I have lost count of the number of times I have spoken at Full Council on the question of the overspend of the Adult Social Care Budget, and the numerous Labour Cabinet Members who have failed to produce an accurate projected budget or keep to them. It has been the abject failure of Cllr Woodley, Cllr Avis and now the recently elected Cllr Campbell to understand that you can’t spend what you haven’t got, as clearly stated by the 151 Officer before he suddenly left, allegedly because his warnings were ignored. A sample set of my questions are attached below and highlights Labour’s complete inability to manage the budget and manage transformation projects to deliver cost savings.
In the past three years this failing Labour Council has reported significant overspends in the children’s and adult social care area of some £39.2 million. The primary recommendation from Grant Thornton in their report states as a matter of priority “that the council takes effective action to manage both the demand and resulting cost pressures in Adult Social Care”. Something I have stressed at numerous meetings.
Grant Thornton further comment:
‘The challenges of demand led services with both Children’s and Adult Social Care impacts across the Local Government sector and the Council is not unique in facing pressures on these budgets. The Council has included growth items in the budgets and applied transformation funding for each area and the overspends continue indicating that any action taken has not addressed either the continuing demand or the cost of meeting that demand. Although the demand pressures differ between Children’s and Adult Social Care services, the Council has not demonstrated that it can take effective action to either manage the cost pressures or establish appropriate budgets within Children’s and Adult Social Care services.’
At Full Council, at Cabinet, at Scrutiny, with officers and at numerous other committees and forums, our questions and speeches have been totally ignored. It has been impossible to gain answers to important questions. There has been no strategic approach to the budget overspend or realisation of the impending disaster. I have numerous council questions and other information that I would be happy to present to all those investigating this financial crisis. It is a sorry state of affairs and the only people who will suffer are the residents of Croydon.
In my opinion political decisions have been made instead of strategic sound financial decisions. Good Governance has been thrown out of the window and risk management cast aside. Due process and important scrutiny was not permitted. Politics and Place over People has presided. Labour Cabinet members have replaced third sector representatives on the Health and Wellbeing Board and the Adult Social Care Review Panel has been abolished during a pandemic.
With the refusal to give key information to Councillors, it is going to take a huge sea change to put Croydon Council back on track.
I have taken my concerns over poor management, lack of governance and transparency to every level of the Council. But as in so many cases the failing Labour Administration just didn't listen.
So none of this is a surprise – quite frankly it was inevitable. Finally, Grant Thornton say:
“Action must be taken to restore the Council to a sound financial position supported by effective governance”.
I believe this can only truly be achieved by installing a Conservative Administration.