'Protecting Front Line Services'

Cllr Govindia explains how he believes Wandsworth is saving money

As local authority funding has been reduced in recent years the council has had to work to make savings while protecting front line services like weekly bin collections, libraries and the borough’s award-winning parks.

Council leader Ravi Govindia explains more:
“All over the country town halls have had to reduce spending to help bring the national debt under control, and Wandsworth is no exception. We started by making big structural changes like reducing the number of town hall departments, merging back office systems and cutting our senior staff wage bill.

“We also made better use of technology, bringing more services online like parking permits, council tax accounts and fly-tip reporting. This helps to cut costs while making it easier to access key services. We also moved more staff into the town hall, helping reduce the accommodation bill and allowing us to sell buildings we no longer need.

“Another change was to transfer the management of our leisure, parks and cultural services to a new charitable social enterprise created and run by our staff. Called Enable, this new organisation is providing the same excellent services as before but at a lower cost. A second staff-led social enterprise, called One Trust, has been set up and now manages our excellent adult learning disability day service.

“We have also transferred the management of our libraries to social enterprise GLL which saves £665,000 every year. With reduced back office costs we have kept every library branch open while councils with an in-house service have simply closed them.

“As well as making savings, we have secured new sources of income like advertising on our website, hosting the Formula E championships and securing a £13m New Home Bonus in reward for our successful home building efforts. Every penny we raise helps to protect the front line and ensures council tax bills stay as low as possible. Our tax rate is the second lowest in the country because we know how important that is to hard working families.

“Looking ahead, our budgets will continue to shrink and we will need to find new savings. That’s why we are creating a staff sharing arrangement with Richmond Council which will see a single workforce providing services across the two boroughs. Both councils will remain independent bodies with their own distinct ethos and policies, but through sharing resources and buying power we can save £10m a year each.

“And there are many things local residents can do to help us safeguard services. You can use our online accounts, sign up for direct debits, take care to recycle the correct items and report issues like fly tips and potholes using our website. Small changes like this can make a great difference.”

To sign up for online council services visit wandsworth.gov.uk/your_accounts.

June 27, 2016

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Ravi Govindia