Nearly £9m in savings must be found by Bexley Council to plug a hole in its budget.

The council’s latest accounts show an £8.8m budget gap for next year, a figure which could increase to £36.6m by 2022 unless the council steps in.

Authorities across the country have been under increasing pressure to balance their books as cash from central government is cut.

In Bexley, the council has lost more than half its funding from Westminster since 2010.

Following a meeting next week, residents are going to be consulted on 11 proposals that will help reduce the funding gap.

Council leader Teresa O’Neill said: “We have a good track record of managing with a budget that is steadily reducing, but this always involves difficult choices.

“We hope local people will tell us where they think the savings we need should be made, because our aim continues to be to make their lives better.”

The council’s cabinet – the top team of councillors – will discuss reports next week setting out areas where money can be saved.

Early proposals include scaling back “high cost” services such as support circles for disabled residents and reviewing how transport for adults and children with special needs is provided.

The council will also consider introducing a £5 increase on residential garden waste, cutting £35,000 from the tree planting budget from 2020/21 and halving its budget for friends of parks groups.

Residents will be consulted ahead of meetings in January and February next year, before a final budget is set in early March.

According to the financial strategy, it’s expected there will be an increase in council tax next year of nearly two per cent.

Labour opposition leader Cllr Daniel Francis said government cuts will impact society’s most vulnerable.

He said: “Over the last eight years, local government has been asked to take a greater cut to its budgets than any other area of government spending.

“Austerity has caused huge damage with devastating effects on key public services that protect the most defenceless in society such as children with disabilities, vulnerable older people and those who have found themselves at increased risk of homelessness, along with the services we all rely on, like clean streets, green spaces and children’s centres.

“Local government budgets are at breaking point and Bexley’s cabinet papers highlight there is still a significant budget gap over the next four years. The budget proposals for 2019/20 have been published this week and include significant proposals for services for older people, school transport for children with disabilities and to waste collection.

“We will be working with residents over the next few months to understand the impact of these proposals and to scrutinise them fully at committee prior to the agreement of a final budget next March.”

Growing populations, increasing homelessness and more children with special educational needs have all been cited as other challenges facing the borough.

A spokesman for the council said: “There is a high level of uncertainty and risk around all councils’ finances, which could potentially have a significant impact on next year’s budgets, including volatile economic conditions.”