Merton needs to make cuts to services for the elderly to cover shortfall
Eastway Day Centre in Morden is one victim of cuts
December 6, 2022
Merton Council has a gap of more than £4million in next year’s budget, blaming inflation and “financial chaos in the economy” for the hole.
To save money in the coming years, Merton Council will start making a series of cuts. This includes closing down a day centre for the elderly and cutting down on the number of people who have more than one carer.
At a cabinet meeting on Monday night (5 December) member for finance, Councillor Billy Christie, said the council is currently facing a £4.3 million hole in 2023/24.
He said, “What may seem relatively static headline figures belie the financial chaos the economy and the council has been grappling with since March and the huge amount that has been done to keep our budget under control.
“If it wasn’t for £10 million of extra inflationary costs that we have had to budget for, we would be showing a budget surplus right now. Work is continuing to bring forward additional savings and income proposals in order for us to close that gap and present a balanced budget in March.
“We are still awaiting the details of the financial settlement from central government which we will receive just before Christmas which will have a material impact on our business plan preparations so a further update will be coming to cabinet in January.”
One of the savings outlined by the council is closing down the Eastway Day Centre in Morden. This year, it had a budget of £503,000, in 2023/24 it has a budget of £180,000, but in subsequent years the figure drops to zero.
The council said users of this service will be directed to the Merton Dementia Hub in Mitcham. The decision would mean nine full-time staff losing their jobs with three seconded to the Dementia Hub. The report adds the building “could be re-purposed to support [the] delivery of strategic priorities”.
Merton Council also wants to cut down on the number of residents who require two carers to visit – currently, there are 113 such cases. It is set to reassess all cases to see whether they can be served by one carer which it estimates could see a 20-30 per cent reduction in care costs.
The council also hopes to save money by reducing travel allowances and stationary budgets for staff, delaying recruitment for vacant jobs in some departments and bringing in more income from things like temporary traffic orders, needed when third parties need to carry out work on Merton roads.
Tara O'Connor, Local Democracy Reporter