Councillor Bassam Mahfouz, cabinet lead for finance and leisure, led three Zoom sessions on the Ealing Council’s budget challenges before Christmas. The sessions are now available to view on the council’s YouTube channel.
In the recordings, Councillor Mahfouz gives a presentation on the council’s financial position, the challenges we have ahead and asks those attending the sessions what matters most to them. The presentation explains the pressures the council is facing after a decade of government grant cuts, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and the uncertainties and tough choices it faces in the next financial year.
After the presentation, attendees were invited to put their questions to a panel, including the leader of the council, Councillor Julian Bell.
A session for the voluntary and community sector also took place before Christmas. This session was hosted by Ealing Community Network.
Serious financial pressure
Before the sessions took place, Councillor Mahfouz had 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.”