Planning for the future 2023-24
Bromley Council has built a strong reputation for managing its finances well and making astute investments in a sustainable way to support the spending required to provide much needed and valued services for Bromley residents.
Recently, there has been an unprecedented era of financial challenge across local government and we have already taken more than £110 million out of our budget since 2011/12.
With the effects of Covid-19, the war in Ukraine and growing inflation being felt, we are tackling enormous challenges.
We had a projected budget gap of £19.5m per annum by 2025/26, when the 2022/23 council tax was agreed in February 2022. Inflation and, in particular, the rising cost of adult social care, has increased the budget gap. However, based on the provisional local government funding settlement, the council has been able to produce a balanced budget for 2023/24, though a funding gap remains in future years which is forecast to reach £29.6 million by 2026/27.
We continue to focus on producing a balanced budget year on year so that we don’t spend more than we get in and we maximise every sensible opportunity to develop sustainable income streams while continuing to keep council tax as low as possible.
Despite the significant challenges posed by the past few years, we have managed to maintain our services by working in new and innovative ways. We want to continue to be known for the quality of our services and to engage with residents who also play their part in helping make our borough a place we are proud of and one where it’s a pleasure to live, work, do business and spend leisure time.
Bromley is a low grant, low spending borough, which means that our ambitions are not without challenges. This year we will continue to benefit from the robust way we have managed our finances, spending on services while always keeping an astute eye on achieving the best value for money for taxpayers.
Bromley has consistently put its case for a fairer distribution of funds from central government. Over the years the council has spent time with government officials fighting our corner and lobbying for a fairer deal for all our residents. This year is no exception. We want to hear your views on what you think is most important over the next few years, so that we know where best to focus our attentions and finances.
To set the scene, we have listed below some of the recent achievements in our borough and information on where the council gets its funding and broadly how this is spent.
Some of our achievements
- We continued to keep services running as we transitioned from a time of Covid-19 restrictions to a time when restrictions were lifted, while balancing the changing needs of the time.
- We launched the Platinum Jubilee Park Fund, committing £1million to contribute towards community led projects that improve our green spaces.
- We planted more than 500 trees in locations across the borough as part of our Treemendous programme in which we will plant 5000 trees over 4 years.
- We undertook more than £200k worth of parks infrastructure repairs.
- We delivered enhanced playground facilities at Kings Meadow Playground and made improvements to the Farnborough Recreation Ground Cricket Square.
- We supported eight of the borough’s green spaces to achieve Green Flag status.
- We attended to more than 400 tree-related emergencies in the wake of Storm Eustace without any major disruption to residents and visitors.
- We secured funding from the Forestry Commission to design and establish new woodlands on three council owned sites, with the aim of delivering long-term carbon offset benefits.
- We completed repair and conservation work to the remains of the medieval moated manor house at Scadbury Park.
- We secured funds to restore the Bowie Bandstand at Croydon Road Recreation Ground.
- We opened a new BMX Pump Track in Hoblingwell Recreation Ground, working with Access Sport on a community-led hub to support its future use, community integration and reduce anti-social behaviour.
- We sent very little waste to landfill, with the majority of Bromley’s non-recyclable refuse continuing to be used to generate green energy.
- We launched a trial of on-street charging points for electrical vehicles.
- We achieved a 60 percent reduction in fly-tipping within three pilot areas through our Your Waste is Your Responsibility campaign, which has been shortlisted this year for a National Recycling Award.
- We introduced an interactive education programme, Recycling Heroes, at more than 3,000 primary school students. It includes learning on key areas such as recycling and waste minimisation.
- The borough was accredited with the best level of school travel plans in London, achieving the highest number of gold schools ever, demonstrating that schools are committed to increasing active travel. Currently we have 11 bronze, 12 silver and 59 gold.
- We gave eligible children the chance to experience and enjoy new sports that they may not normally engage in as part of our Access to Sport week in the summer.
- We opened the Library of Things in The Glades. It offers the opportunity for residents to borrow items rather than having to buy them.
- We launched Our House, a newly refurbished space dedicated to delivering learning, support and social activities to Bromley’s care leavers and children looked after.
- We provided guidance and resources to residents at Bromley SEND Matters learning space in the Glades for Autism Awareness Week.
- We continued to invest in improving services for our vulnerable young people, through our Roadmap to Excellence, employing more permanent staff, developing our own social workers, strengthening leadership and management and continue to look for ways to improve social care practice.
- We carried out further work to support care leavers including peer support through homemaker packs to promote a friendly transition to living independently.
- We worked to refresh the Local Offer for children with special educational needs and disabilities and to better signpost advice, guidance and services.
- More than 96 percent of on-time applicants received an offer of one of their top three primary school preferences, and 98 percent received on of their preferred schools, with nearly 87 percent getting their first choice.
- The majority of Bromley’s secondary school children received offers from their preferred schools.
- 98 percent of early years settings and 97 percent of Bromley Schools that were inspected were rated as Good or Outstanding.
- We successfully supported the implementation of the SEL Integrated Care Board and Bromley’s Local Care Partnership One Bromley, which is making positive improvements to the delivery of health services.
- In reaction to concerns about loneliness, we commissioned Simply Connect – a free, easy-to- search, online directory of voluntary organisations poised to help and support residents
- We modernised sexual health services and increased accessibility to digital services, which has helped ensure clinicians see the right people at the right time.
- We set up a local Combatting Drugs and Alcohol Partnership as part of the local implementation of the National Drug Strategy, From Harm to Hope.
- We developed a health protection champion programme across care homes in the borough, which is recognised as a model of good practice in infection control and prevention.
- We supported health colleagues and schools with vaccination programmes including COVID, Flu and Polio.
- We achieved above average income from treasury management, which helps offset the impact of inflation and protect key services.
- Our finance department won an Excellence in Asset Management Award at the Public Finance Awards in acknowledgement of robust treasury management
- We have provided essential support to Bromley’s most vulnerable residents through the Household Support Fund.
- We distributed £12 million to more than 80,000 residents with the council tax rebate scheme
- We completed three housing sites and secured nearly 200 properties as part of our commitment to deliver urgently needed affordable housing. The housing sites include ten modern one- and two-bedroom apartments in Anerley, with renewable energy sources and a shared open space for residents to enjoy, and 25 modern one- and two-bedroom affordable apartments in Chislehurst, named Chris Whitty Place, both built as part of the Bromley Homes for Bromley People Scheme. The Chislehurst scheme won at the Best Affordable Housing Development category at the Inside Housing Development Awards.
- We were finalists in the Innovation Constructing Excellence SECBE Awards 2022 for our project with ZED PODS
- We supported 616 Ukrainians in Bromley as part of the Homes for Ukraine project.
- Our teams also provided on-going care by running a weekly Ukraine Support Hub, which has provided information and advice about a variety of subjects including health care, employment, education, learning English and everyday issues.
- We made a successful bid in the High Streets for All funding application, receiving grant funding totalling £140k.
- We secured funding to restore our much-loved Grade II listed Victorian Crystal Palace Subway and began work.
- We brought residents together in Queen’s Gardens to watch the funeral of Her Late Majesty The Queen as a Bromley community
- We coordinated Books of Condolence and floral tributes to mark the passing of Her Late Majesty The Queen
- We celebrated Her Majesty The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee around the borough with the enabling of street parties, beacon lighting events, concerts and film screenings in Queens Garden and more
- We launched a new website to make it easier for residents to find answers to their questions.
- It is through the diligent work of our talented and committed staff that we continue to deliver these achievements and results. Our staff, a large section of whom live in the borough, are fantastic ambassadors for both the council and the borough.
How much is the council's net budget?
The council has set a net budget of £242.9 million for 2023/24
Our spending includes
- £81.7 million on adult social care providing services from care assessment to home care, from support for those with physical disabilities, to support for those with learning disabilities and those with mental health issues
- £66.9 million is for children and young people and includes safeguarding and social care, special educational needs services, behavioural support, early years, education and schools.
- £47 million is spent on the environment such as waste services, street cleaning, traffic, public protection, road safety and maintaining our parks and green spaces
- £20.5 million goes to renewal and recreation covering things like our library service, regenerating and managing our town centres and our planning services
- £7.3 million is spent on concessionary fares (Freedom Passes)
A large part of the council's services are funded by specific government grants which includes, for example, funding for schools and housing benefits. The council has very limited influence on how this money is spent.
The 2022/23 council tax report to Executive in February 2022 identified the need to find further savings of £19.5m per annum by 2025/26. However, since the 2022/23 council tax report was produced, there has been a significant increase in inflation and it has become clear that government reforms relating to adult social care, creating new financial burdens for the council, will not be fully funded. The council has a statutory duty to have a balanced budget and action will be required to eliminate the budget gap which involves difficult choices.
The 2023/24 local government settlement is the fifth one-year settlement in a row and this continues to hamper strategic financial planning, making it especially challenging to set a medium-term financial strategy. Further uncertainty remains as the fair funding review has been delayed until at least 2026/27,
How does the way the council is funded affect its budget?
- Bromley has the second lowest level of settlement funding per head of population in London giving us £118 per head of population in 2023/4 compared to the average in London of £314 - the highest is £533.
- The council has expressed and continues to express serious concerns with the current and previous governments about the fairness of the funding system and to lobby for a fairer deal for our residents
- If the council received the average level of grant funding for London, income would increase by £50.6 million.
- We have the third lowest council tax in outer London
- Bromley has had to face significant reductions in government funding since 2010-11 and there remains significant uncertainty about future funding.