Bexley’s 2021/22 budget recommendations agreed, work on 22/23 budget almost completed too

Bexley’s Conservative Cabinet have published an updated budget for 2021/22 – the draft of which was agreed in December, three months ahead of schedule – while also publishing the draft budget for 2022/23.

While Labour Councils like Greenwich and Lewisham are still working on their budget plans with only weeks to go before they must be set, Bexley’s Conservative Councillors have spent the last six months working hard to agree the budget plans, and ensure the Council continues to deliver services which are regularly highly rated. By law, all Council budgets must be balanced, and must be agreed by March of every year.

Cllr Teresa O’Neill OBE, Leader of the London Borough of Bexley, said:

“This has been an unprecedented 12 months since we set our last budget – the impact of covid19 will continue to be felt for a long time yet, not just in terms of public health but in terms of the Council finances. We have undertaken huge commitments during the pandemic, at a fast pace, to ensure those who needed help got it, while also seeing lots of our income vanish overnight.

But the test for any administration is how you respond to sudden emergencies like this, and I am proud of the way our Council moved quickly to help – from providing hot meals every day to 3,000 vulnerable residents, securing 690,000 of PPE which we distributed to those who needed it, setting up a 7 day a week helpline.

In any year setting a budget takes a huge amount of work, but against this backdrop, we have all been working flat out, day after day to ensure our Council remains an efficient, effective Council that delivers value for money – as has always been our mission.”

The final version of the budget will be published at the end of February, with the final decision made at the start of March at the special Budget Council meeting. The budget proposals for 2021/22 have been subject to consultation with residents and organisations since July, the responses to which have helped shape the final plans.

Cllr David Leaf, Cabinet Member for Resources, added:

“Budgets don’t just get sorted in the last week before the decisions, the work on a new budget begins not long after the work on the last one is completed.

As usual though, while Conservative Councillors have been working hard to get the budget finished, we have seen the usual claims from Labour Councillors and supporters that the Council is on the verge of bankruptcy.

This year the Leader of the Labour Group even stood on the steps of the Civic Offices and proclaimed to the BBC that the Council would be declaring a section 114 notice because it had a budget gap of £14m and would have to close services like libraries.

This was all made up and it is a disgrace that someone in such a position would try and frighten residents in this way. He should apologise to residents for misleading them in this way – but I doubt he will.”

The Budget for Bexley plans for 2021/22 can be read here – https://democracy.bexley.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=149&MId=29256

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