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Sign up for online council budget Q&A session

Councillor Bassam Mahfouz, Ealing Council’s cabinet member for finance and leisure, will host special budget Q&A information sessions in the lead up to the council’s annual budget setting process.

The sessions will be held online on Zoom and there will be separate dates for businesses, the voluntary and community sector (VCS) and residents. Ealing Community Network is hosting the the session for the VCS.

Councillor Mahfouz will give an update of the council’s difficult financial position, the pressures it is facing after a decade of government grant cuts and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and the uncertainties and tough choices it faces in the next financial year.

Following Councillor Mahfouz’s update, attendees will be able to put their questions to a panel including Councillor Mahfouz and Councillor Julian Bell, the leader of the council.

Attendees must register for the events in advance by following the links below. A Zoom account is not required to take part. A link to join the session online will be sent once attendees register.

Register today

A maximum of 500 people may register for each session. A recording of the session will also be available afterwards  on the council’s YouTube channel.

Serious financial pressure

Councillor Mahfouz said: “Many of our residents have seen first-hand the impact of the 64% cut to our government grant and I wish I was able to tell them that the situation is improving. Unfortunately, we are now entering one of the most difficult budget setting periods I can remember.

“We have no certainty about the funding we are likely to receive from government, and we are expecting our income from business rates and council tax to shrink because of COVID-19. At the same time, demand for our housing and homelessness services and social care is projected to increase as the most vulnerable in our communities turn to us for help during the continued pandemic.

Croydon Council last week issued the equivalent of a bankruptcy notice (a s114 notice), the first London council to do so, with many other local authorities threatening to be close to that point also. In the same week, the County Councils Network issued a warning about the serious financial pressures facing its members. There is little doubt that local government is facing some stark financial choices without urgent government funding.

 “We are continuing to fight for the borough. We recently asked our three MPs to lobby government on our behalf and are working with the West London Alliance on a Build and Recover strategy, particularly for those hardest hit by the aviation downturn.

“We led London in supporting our businesses and sourcing PPE throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, which brought out the best in our communities and showed that we always do better when we come together. I hope that as many people as possible will join me in these sessions.”

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