Taken for ‘grant-aid’

‘So we’ll have to stop running around spending money like drunken sailors,’ I said.

‘Well, drunk sailors tend to be spending their own money,’ Tony said. ‘By contemporary standards they’re quite prudent.’

*Quote of the day by John Lanchester, writing about the sub-prime mortgage crisis in the London Review of Books.

We have seen further coverage this week of the financial crisis in Croydon Council where:

“The council is facing a £62 million overspend and currently has £440 million worth of debt made up of short term loans.

Given its annual budget this year was £280 million, the overspend represents about one fifth of the council’s total annual spending power.”

As we have covered previously Croydon Council now has 23 staff who earned over £100,000.  16 more that Barnet council which is about the same size and 12 more than Sutton, 3 more than Bromley (which can afford this as it doesn’t have any debt).

But do we get value from these highly paid staff?  Do they provide a great service?

As part of the government’s response to the Covid-19 crisis, councils are tasked with paying out grants to local businesses under the ‘Small Business Grants Fund (SBGF) scheme’ and ‘Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Business Grants Fund (RHLGF)’.

We can now measure some of the success of Croydon Council’s high pay bill.  The government has published details of the amount of grants paid out against the initial funding, and expected number of payments.

Croydon Council has found itself in the bottom 10% of payments made by number and by amount.  Croydon having made only 77% of the payments identified and 71% by amount.  This compares to 84% and 80% on average by local authority, with 96 authorities having made over 90% of their identified payments.  Maybe they employ 24 people on over £100K?

Croydon ranks 290 out of 314 local authorities as below:

RankingLocal Authority Initial Allocationhereditaments that the local authority has identifiedgrant payments made  to hereditamentsValue of payments (£) % of value of payments% of number of payments
Top 3       
1City of London£14,740,000937937£15,310,000104%100%
2Westminster City Council£78,090,0004,8564,856£86,720,000111%100%
3London Borough of Ealing £68,212,0005,1105,088£69,945,000103%100%
290London Borough of Croydon £60,588,0004,1183,189£43,305,00071%77%
Bottom 3       
312Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council£73,036,0005,8873,741£42,495,00058%64%
313Corby Borough Council£11,516,0001,240773£9,215,00080%62%
314Wigan Metropolitan Borough Council£80,860,0008,5854,593£52,875,00065%54%

Croydon Council is again failing local taxpayers.  These provide much needed funding to keep local small businesses going and high streets running.  Local companies including Coughlans Bakery, All Bikes, and Old Whitgift Sports Club, have come forward with concerns.  In central Croydon this is all the more important at a time the council has failed to secure the regeneration of the town centre via the Westfield development.

You can pay for quality, but questions need to be answered as to how Croydon taxpayers are being forced to pay and are still receiving services in the bottom 10%.