Dagenham and Rainham Labour MP, Jon Cruddas, successfully called for a debate in Parliament on the funding crisis engulfing Havering Council. The debate took place on Tuesday 28 November.
Jon raised the current financial pressures being faced and the background to the situation. He also praised Havering Council for being open and transparent about its predicament and that the Council is seeking understanding and assistance from Government.
In his speech to MPs Jon said “Havering is generally regarded as a well run efficient council with low borrowing – unlike say Croydon and Slough - and no historic pay claims unlike Birmingham. It has the lowest unit cost in London. The situation faced is different from neighbours. Havering shares a border with Thurrock – which provided £655m to companies via bonds, including the purchase of solar farms.”
Jon went on to say “Attempts at establishing a revised Fair Funding Formula based around demographic change and current need has effectively been parked – with pretty disastrous consequences for a borough like Havering. The scale of the problem comes apparent when you consider the demographic pressure being faced in terms of adult and children’s social care. Put simply
- Havering has the second oldest population in London
- Yet it has the 4th fastest growing children's population in England.”
Jon pointed out that these facts are not reflected in the way the Government allocates funding to councils. He also stated that a whole series of councils now appear to be caught in the position where the cost of social care and homelessness is more than their resources and are on the brink of collapse.
He made recommendations to Government:
- Fair funding review needs to be implemented – one which better allocates resources based on the realities demographic change and need and that the Government does not allocate any new funding using the current flawed formula.
- The Government needs to do more to fix the escalating costs of care.
- Different rules are required for well run councils like Havering should they need to effectively seek Government loans to tide them over.
Jon asked that the Government Minister meets with Havering Council leadership and him to discuss in detail the pressures forcing the Council into difficulties and how these can be alleviated.
The Government Minister, Simon Hoare, in responding to the debate commended both Jon Cruddas for raising the plight of Havering Council and the Council for its openness and honesty. He then agreed to the request made by Jon Cruddas to hold a meeting. Following the debate Jon contacted Havering Council Leader, Cllr Ray Morgon with the news so that arrangements can be made for the meeting with the Minister.