Around Ealing February/March 2019 - Page 5

Leader’s Notes “It has been an incredibly tough challenge – arguably the toughest the council has faced.” Councillor Julian Bell Leader of the council I will be writing to you all in the coming weeks once a decision has been made on whether council tax needs to be raised for the new financial year 2019/20. Through careful financial management, Ealing Council has tried to avoid placing too much of a burden on residents’ pockets during the decade-long national economic crisis we have been living through. A 10-year freeze on core council tax rates in Ealing sadly had to come to an end last year, however, because the pressures on our finances became too great. I have seen how foodbanks have become the hub of some people’s lives as they struggle to make ends meet and put food on the table. Ealing Foodbank provides you with a worthwhile way to get involved in the community because its centres in Northolt and Southall are in particular need of new volunteers. The council is one of the foodbank’s main referral partners and, last year, I took some donations from council staff. Since 2010 the council has seen its government grant reduced by £143million – a cut of 64%. This means for every pound we used to get from government we now only get 36p. At the same time, demand for our services is higher than it has ever been. For example, £232,000 is now being spent every day on adult social care alone. As you can read on pages 10-11, the foodbank is a registered charity run by volunteers and relies on donations to help feed the increasing number of people finding it hard to make ends meet. Read the article to find out how you might be able to help. We explained in the last edition of Around Ealing (December) how the council was discussing ways to close a funding gap of £57million. It has been an incredibly tough challenge – arguably the toughest the council has faced in its history. This means changes to some services are, sadly, inevitable. To make sure we are focusing our staff and the money we have on tackling inequality and making the biggest difference to residents’ lives, we set up our Future Ealing programme. I am sure you have read about it by now. But the scale of the challenge we are facing means that we cannot do this work alone. At our Talk Future Ealing roadshow in the summer and autumn, almost two-thirds of people who filled in our survey said they would be willing to help through activities such as volunteering and by helping us support community‑run services. You can see fantastic examples of such partnership work at Horsenden Hill, where the Friends group is making a real difference. The council’s new Parks Foundation aims to help recreate this kind of success elsewhere (see page 16). Visit www.dosomethinggood.org.uk for more community projects. Brexit has been chaotic and who knows where we will be with it all by the time you read this? But I wanted to assure the tens of thousands of EU citizens living and contributing to the public life and economic wellbeing of our borough that they are all welcome here. These are our neighbours and colleagues; people who work in all our public services, including the NHS, schools, colleges, university and the council. And the uncertainty they have had to endure has been unacceptable. The council’s website has a dedicated page with some guidance that might help, at www.ealing.gov.uk/brexit You can read what I wrote on the subject previously at ealingnewsextra.co.uk/blog/ leaders-notes/brexit By working together, we can keep Ealing a great place to live and work. around ealing    February 2019 5