The Labour Cabinet Member for Finance, Simon Hall, gave a misleading reply to a fellow Councillor when trying to justify a £7.5 million overspend. Mr Hall had been asked by a Labour member at the Scrutiny and Overview Committee, Joy Prince, to explain how the Council had blown it’s budget for ‘People’. He explained that it was due to an increase in the number of Looked After Children (children in care in Croydon), saying that this often happened following an Ofsted inspection. This is despite Croydon’s Ofsted inspection reporting in September 2017 – well before the 2018/19 budget was finalised.
It can now be revealed that the total number of Looked After Children in Croydon in 2018 was the lowest in four years, having fallen from 803 in 2015 to 783 in 2018. This was revealed by the Council following requests made by Andy Stranack, Conservative member of the Scrutiny and Overview Committee.
Speaking following the release of the figures, Cllr Stranack said,
“These figures reveal what many Croydon residents have long recognised – Croydon Labour’s sums just don’t add up when it comes to budgeting. Cabinet members need to understand the facts and figures, otherwise it’s impossible for them to make good decisions.”
Mario Creatura, another Conservative Councillor and the Conservative’s prospective MP for Croydon Central, added,
“It is no wonder the Council consistently overspends its budget when the Cabinet Member for Finance has such a sloppy grasp of the figures. Unfortunately the only certainty Croydon residents have regarding the Council budget is that their Council Tax will rise under Labour”.