Looking to the Future

Looking to the Future 2019-20

Bromley Council has a sound reputation for managing its finances well and making well - founded investments in a sustainable way to support the spending required to provide much needed and valued services for Bromley residents.

There has been an unprecedented era of financial challenge across local government since the start of ‘austerity’ and we have already taken £90million per year out of our budget. Our current net budget for 2018/19 is £200.4 million.

Despite this we continue to produce a balanced budget so that we don’t spend more than we get in and, as a debt-free borough, we maximise every sensible opportunity to develop sustainable income streams, while continuing to keep council tax as low as possible.

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 tax payers. Beyond that, we have some very difficult decisions to make and mountains to climb as we face a future with reduced government grants and, therefore, fewer resources. There is a continued expectation that we will become more self-sufficient while facing even greater burdens and rising demand for services from our residents, many with ever more complex care needs.

Bromley has consistently put its case for a fairer distribution of funds. 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 and meetings have already been held with ministers in order to make our case for a fairer deal for Bromley. We want to hear your views on what you think is most important over the next few years.

To set the scene, we have listed below some of the recent achievements in our borough followed by information on where the council gets its funding and broadly how this is spent.

Some of our achievements

  • We have continued to improve the fabric of our borough to increase the competitiveness of our town centres which is good for residents and for businesses too. This includes working with residents and businesses to secure funding for improvements in Beckenham, Bromley, Orpington and Penge town centres, with this multimillion pound work designed to help our town centres compete successfully.
  • We have maintained our library service with opening hours unchanged through our 10 year partnership with experienced library operator GLL who now run library services throughout the borough.
  • Our food safety team has been given extra funds to extend this vital service, inspecting and advising food businesses to help keep us all safe.
  • Children’s services have achieved positive feedback from the recent Ofsted monitoring visits and from the Department for Education which demonstrate the improvements that are being made thanks to our dedicated staff and leadership team. Reports can be found at www.ofsted.gov.uk
  • More than £1.5m of new money was invested in improving services for our vulnerable young people, establishing a ‘Roadmap to Excellence’, employing more permanent staff, strengthening leadership and management and fulfilling the caseload promise in driving down caseloads to improve social care practice.
  • Further work to support care leavers including peer support through ‘homemaker packs’ to promote a friendly transition to living independently.
  • Refreshed the ‘Local Offer’ for children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities.
  • Improved children and young people’s wellbeing by continuing to engage with schools in the London Healthy Schools programme as well as supporting the Healthy Early Years Programme.
  • We continually strive to identify genuine shortfalls in school places for Bromley children and work with schools and the government to ensure that we have sufficient school places as demand continues to rise.
  • More than 3,000 extra school places across the borough have been created since the major school expansion programme started in 2012; we support our young people to remain in education and training and to reach their full potential, including creating work experience and apprenticeship opportunities.
  • Ninety per cent of Bromley schools are graded as being good or better by Ofsted.
  • We continue to work in partnership with key organisations across the borough and engage and encourage volunteers including Police Specials of which we have around 50 in Bromley, local fire cadets as well our well established Friends Groups – Street Friends, Park Friends and Tree Friends. We bring Snow Friends together in the autumn and ensure there are residents in place ready to help with snow clearance when needed complementing the council’s work.
  • Last year we achieved a six per cent drop in the amount of waste sent to expensive landfill sites with the 27,400 tonnes landfilled being our lowest total yet. Despite this we still had a £3.2m bill for landfill tax. Whilst we are one of the best boroughs for recycling in London, we need to do more which is why we are launching our Food for Thought campaign, encouraging residents to recycle as much food waste as possible as part of the weekly food waste collections.
  • Some £10m is being spent on important road maintenance to make the boroughs roads safer and more pleasant to drive along.
  • The Biggin Hill Museum is close to opening following the council saving St George’s Chapel in Biggin Hill through the establishment of a Trust.
  • The brand new skateboard park opened at Crystal Palace Park with a new Friends of the Crystal Palace skateboard park group being established.
  • Bromley Council’s new apprenticeship scheme to help people into work is growing. It was set up with £200,000 of extra funding and is only open to Bromley residents thereby directly benefiting our local community.
  • Bromley’s graduate internship scheme enables local young people to develop a range of skills and experience to enhance their career prospects.
  • The council submitted its draft Local Plan to the Secretary of State for independent examination in August 2017 and the process is still continuing with the Inspector having held Hearings in December 2017 and the council having consulted on Main Modifications in Summer 2018. The Council is now awaiting the Inspector’s report. It is hoped that the council will proceed to adoption by early 2019.
  • Achieved time-limited Better Care Fund Grant of £4.2m in 2017-18 and additional grant funding of £3.4m and £1.7m in 2018-19 and 2019-20 to invest in adult social care services.
  • Hospital discharges for those with social care needs are on target as part of our integration work with the PRUH.
  • More than 600 people have been supported to relearn daily skills and regain confidence when leaving hospital or to avoid admission in the first place.
  • Achieved a ‘Good’ Care Quality Commission rating for the reablement service designed to assist people to live more independently in their own homes after illness or injury, or for those with long standing medical conditions.
  • Support is given to joined up Bromley Integrated Care Networks to ensure the most appropriate care and support is available for residents with complex care needs.
  • Bromley Well, a new service to help support residents to remain independent, joint funded with Bromley CCG, continues to go from strength to strength, helping and advising local residents and carers.
  • Bromley is leading the way in London in tackling Blue Badge fraud, with 88 prosecutions so far. This award winning initiative is designed to protect the integrity of the scheme and help Blue Badge Holders remain independent.
  • As homelessness increases across London, we have worked with clients to help those at risk avoid becoming homeless in the first place.
  • We continue to look for innovative ways to reduce homelessness such as the Mears project to provide suitable temporary accommodation, the Spring Capital temporary accommodation project in Beckenham and our on-going work on modular homes.
  • We ensure our assets work well for us and have invested in properties to achieve a sustainable rental income that helps protect frontline services.
  • We have already embarked on a journey to begin the integration of health and social care so that older people and their families can experience services that are more seamless and focused to individual needs.
  • We are working to offer more choice to those who need care through the direct payments scheme.
  • Under the heading of Ageing Well, we are working with the CCG and with residents and local groups to devise a new Older People’s Strategy.
  • We support carers living in Bromley and help older and disabled residents enjoy life in their own homes as far as possible and live life to the full.
  • Through our public health responsibilities we helped improve health and wellbeing in the borough particularly for those with diabetes, dementia, cardio-vascular disease and focused on the emotional wellbeing of young people.
  • We delivered 8,100 NHS health checks last year, which ensured that patients at risk of developing heart disease and stroke were identified early and managed appropriately.
  • Successfully launched the Diabetes Prevention Programme following a local pilot commended nationally with half of the participants reducing their risk of developing diabetes or getting their blood sugar levels to normal.
  • We work with young people with more complex needs so that they can continue to live, learn and work in their own communities.
  • Investing in digital technology to enhance and improve more convenient ways for customers to engage with the council.
  • We continue to deliver these achievements and results through our staff. We are working with our departmental staff representatives to create an organisation where staff are adequately rewarded for excellence. Our staff are good ambassadors, a large section of whom live in the borough.

How much is the council's net budget?

The council has a net budget of £200.4 million for 2018/19

Our spending includes:

  • £70.7 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
  • £50.3 million is for children and young people and includes safeguarding and social care, special educational needs services, behavioural support, early years, education and schools.
  • £42.7 million is spent on the environment such as waste services, street cleaning, traffic, public protection, road safety and maintaining our parks and green spaces
  • £14.0 million goes to renewal and recreation covering things like our library service, regenerating and managing our town centres and our planning services
  • £11.4 million is spent on concessionary fares (Freedom Passes)
  • £12.5 million is spent on housing including homelessness / housing needs and supporting people services
  • Cr £1.2 million relates to other services and income

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.

Although government announced a four-year funding offer in 2016-17, there remains considerable uncertainty in terms of overall funding levels.  We will not know the final position until the Local Government Finance Settlement expected in December.

Although potentially we have a broadly balanced budget for 2019-20, we still need to identify savings of more than £40m over the next four years and need to work with our residents to achieve a balanced budget in years three and four.

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 £123 per head of population in 2018/19 compared to the average in London of £317 - the highest is £537.
  • 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 £65 million
  • We have the third lowest council tax in outer London - if our council tax was the average of the five other low grant funded authorities our income would increase by £30 million
  • Bromley has had to face significant reductions in government funding since 2010-11 and the government is expected to continue with real term reductions in funding.
  • As health, schools and security services nationally have greater protection from significant cuts there will continue to be real term funding reductions in local government.