Financial Strain in the Long Haul Predicted for Ealing Council

Budget over spent by £15 million due to inflation and rising cost of adult social care

Cllr Steve Donnelly, "We are taking every step within our power to bring these budgets under control"
Cllr Steve Donnelly, "We are taking every step within our power to bring these budgets under control"

October 24, 2022

Ealing Council is forecast to go almost £15 million over budget this financial year due to the impact of global inflation and rising demands on adult social care services, a council meeting revealed.

Presenting the budget report for the first quarter of the financial year, Councillor Steve Donnelly, the Cabinet Member for Inclusive Economy, warned that the authority would be under financial strain for the ‘long haul’.

The report says, “The Council is facing considerable financial pressures in managing the implications of external factors and the wider economic context.

“It is dealing with the impact of rising costs due to inflation and increases in demand and complexity of demand and costs in social care and demand-led services arising from Covid-19 and the cost-of-living crisis which also affect important income streams.”

The council is expected to spend £271.4 million over the next year, which shows an overspend of £14.8 million against the predicted budget of £256.6 million.

Cllr Donnelly told Ealing Council’s cabinet on 12 October, “We are taking every step within our power to bring these budgets under control. I continue to meet monthly with key service areas to discuss ways in which we can bring budgets down without causing difficulty to our vulnerable service users and we will continue to do that.”

He continued, “I am certainly hopeful that in Q2 I will be presenting a better, though not a rosy picture but let’s be clear we are in this in the long haul. Q1 is a period before things really went off the rails in terms of the national economy, inflation has continued to rise since the Quarter One period and the demands on our suppliers, reasonable demands in most cases, is pushing back upon us. These are difficult times for the council and for the country.”

Adult and public health services have forecast a budget pressure of more than £17 million but the service has made cuts and savings which will reduce that pressure by £3.3 million.

Councillor Josh Blacker, the cabinet member for healthy lives, said, “The problem with adult services is massively increased demand with higher levels of complexity that we have to fund the costs per day we are seeing is increasing day on day, month on month.

“The inflationary pressures that the sectors are facing are no less than what we are facing ourselves as a result of the economic turmoil that Councillor Donnelly has mentioned. We will do what we can to meet that crisis but it is up to the government to fix it and we demand better from them.”

Leader of the council, Cllr Peter Mason said, “People are getting sicker, hospitals are in black alerts as early as late summer, we simply do not have enough in public services to be able to provide for what people right demand and it does need to be better.

“We face significant challenges this financial year and probable next while a government continue to propose mini budgets that destroy the economy. The way the government wish to pay for that is to cut public services and the government want to take from the public vital public services and they are going to expect us to make cuts on their behalf.”

The Local Democracy Service has asked Ealing Council for more information about which Adult Services are being impacted by ‘high demand’.

Megan Stanley - Local Democracy Reporter