Camden’s Financial Challenge from Councillor Richard Olszewski

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One of our members has received the following email from Councillor Richard Olszewski, Cabinet Member for Finance and Transformation.

Camden Council

Good afternoon,

I write to update you on our latest response to the financial challenge Camden Council and Camden’s public services as a whole are facing.

As I mentioned in my last email, over the past eight years, the government has cut its funding to us in half. We have had to save £169 million over this time, and we need to reduce our annual budget by a further estimated £35-40 million by 2022, beginning with £23 million of savings next year.

We’re clear that public services need long-term sustainable funding from the government to allow us to continue to provide high-quality support to our communities. We cannot continue to make such savings without vital services being affected – we have reached tipping point.

Getting the best deal for Camden

We are committed to obtaining every possible penny we can to invest in Camden. Since I last wrote to you, we have successfully secured £600,000 from the government to continue a project helping women who have experienced violence and £200,000 from the Home Office to add to the £500,000 we’ve already committed to spend on tackling youth violence.

Camden’s commitment to building new council homes and prompt action on resident safety has also been recognised by the Mayor of London and the government through significant one-off sums of money. We are also committing resources to continue the work of our hotspot team to tackle rough sleeping – supporting people off the streets and into temporary accommodation.

This makes us all the more determined to continue to do things the Camden way, and focus on achieving the ambitions set out in our joint vision with our residents, businesses and wider community through Camden 2025.

Proposals to make savings

Today we have published a range of proposals designed to transform our services to meet changing needs, invest in our services and make £30 million of the savings we need to make. Given the cuts we’ve already faced, we are now facing some tough choices in order to make these savings.

In designing these proposals, we have focused on our joint community vision and its aim to tackle inequality – that Camden should be a borough where nobody gets left behind and everyone has a voice. The proposals also reflect core principles, communicated in our organisational response to the community vision, Our Camden Plan. Our commitments include intervening early to prevent long-term problems, joining up our services to be more efficient and to offer a better service to our residents, working together with our partners to make the most of each other’s specialist skills, and using technology to enhance our support to residents.

You can read the proposals in full on our website at camden.gov.uk/financialchallenge, but I have outlined a summary of some of the plans below. We plan to:

• Review Camden’s current nursery provision, including an assessment of how we can encourage greater take-up of nursery places in our school nurseries, which are currently undersubscribed.
• Use technology to give young people and adults with care needs supported independence, including providing personalised travel plans and expanding our use of assistive technology.
• Build on our close relationship with our voluntary and community sector (VCS) and help the VCS to be increasingly self-financing, in some instances sharing space in council-owned buildings to reduce costly rents and deliver more services together.
• Invest £2 million upfront and £1.5 million annually in an improved employment and skills service that will help residents overcome barriers preventing them from accessing employment or progressing from low-paid work, to mitigate the impact of welfare changes such as Universal Credit and increase independence
• Use our new website to focus on personalised digital communications, reducing our core customer service hours to 9am to 5pm and the amount of our paper publications
• Remove street parking machines, moving to a cashless and paperless system for our parking service by encouraging residents to pay for parking and permits online, via telephone or through our app
• Make a range of savings to make the council more efficient and provide a more joined-up service to our residents.

The majority of proposals will require further development and we are committed to engaging with residents and partners as a part of that development process. The proposals will be discussed at the Council’s Cabinet meeting on Wednesday 12 December 2018.

Get in touch and share our video

This is a difficult time, but through everything we do, we’re committed to protecting strong public services, supporting our most vulnerable residents and making sure Camden is a place where nobody gets left behind. We will also continue to stand up for Camden and bid for any funding and grants which may be available to us.

Please do get in touch with your initial thoughts on these proposals and further ways we can make our case to government that enough is enough – we need our services to be funded properly.

I’d also like to encourage you to watch our video on Camden’s financial challenge and share it on social media. It offers a really good overview of the challenges we are facing in a format more easily digestible than a committee report.

Best regards,

Councillor Richard Olszewski, Cabinet Member for Finance and Transformation

 


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