Wandsworth council reveals ‘relatively strong’ finances

By Sian Bayley, local democracy reporter

Wandsworth Council is in a “relatively strong” financial position, and will not be heading down the same path as Croydon, which went bankrupt last year.

Director of Resources, Mark Maidment, confirmed the news to last night’s finance committee.

Chief Executive Paul Martin said he thought the council’s finances were in a better state than many councils due to the “difficult decisions” taken in the last 10 years.

“I believe, although not all of them were perfect, and inevitably one learns for experience, generally speaking they have put Wandsworth in a strong position in 2021,” he said.

However, the impact of the coronavirus pandemic does mean some more difficult decisions may have to be made as part of future budgets.

Mr Maidment said that while council tax collection rates have maintained at “quite a good level” this year, business rates have been down and the council does not yet know what the approach to business rates will be next year regarding exemptions.

Council papers said that further budget resources, the use of balances/earmarked reserves or additional council tax income will be required to balance the budget.

For the upcoming year (2021/22) council tax could therefore increase by a

maximum of 4.99 per cent without triggering a referendum, and would generate an additional income of £3.1 million for the council.

Council papers noted that each one per cent increase foregone would “equate to a loss of potential council tax income of £0.63 million per annum.”

The budget requirement, reserves and council tax for next year and the budget framework up to 2023/24 will be considered further at the next meeting on February 10, followed by the council on March 3.

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