Protecting front line services remains our political priority in the months and years ahead. Despite the determination of Government to squeeze budgets still further we remain focused on supporting the most vulnerable through our anti-poverty strategy, investing in further employment opportunities and ring fencing financial resources in Adults and Children’s Services.
Government has enabled Local Authorities to increase Council Tax by 2% which will be ring fenced for Adult Services . The Council will further increase council tax by 1.9% and will be ring fenced to support the pressures that exist in Children’s Services. These are difficult decisions that have not been taken lightly but limited choices exist. We have taken early steps in our financial planning to have regard for any long term pressures that are presented. However we would be failing in our duty if we did not take these small steps to maintain existing public sector provision.
Significant reductions in staffing levels have taken place and Council structures have been adapted to meet changing circumstances and to meet Council priorities. It remains a fact that reduced staffing levels will have some impact and we continue to evaluate where those pressures will fall. These are tough choices as we confront the challenges presented to us by Government.
The Council investment programme will continue. Recent decisions taken will result in £11.2m being spent in the Plumstead Cultural Quarter. Our ambition to regenerate the Spray Street site in Woolwich Town Centre is well under way as we look forward to the opening of Crossrail in Woolwich and Abbey Wood in 2018.
We are anxiously awaiting any further announcements in reductions of public spending in the Chancellor’s Budget statement in a couple of weeks time. We will continue to work tirelessly to protect the most vulnerable from any further pressures from central Government.