Councillors have been warned that tough decisions are ahead this year to plug a £19m budget gap in Bexley.

Increasing populations, pressure on services and a scaling back of government funding has led to many councils struggling to balance their books.

Bexley Council has found £100m in its budgets since 2011, but faces another round of savings by spring to plug a £19m gap.

Housing, special educational needs, and adult social care are the main areas where the council are seeing big pressure.

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Giving an update on the latest outlook of the council’s finances, Bexley’s interim director of finance Paul Thorogood told councillors that over the next four years there is a £38m hole in the budget.

“There continues to be uncertainty around local government finance,” the director said. “We must be prudent in our planning assumptions until further guidance is provided.

“The council continues to lobby the government, specifically for a settlement for the next financial year in order to plan robustly. The financial pressure facing the authority is significantly challenging. The focus is to close the budget gap – this is likely to require full council to make difficult decisions.”

Housing alone was predicted to go over budget by £1.7m – an overspend that has since rocketed to £2.4m.

Over £2m has been added to the housing budget this year to alleviate huge pressure from costly temporary accommodation.

Cabinet member for housing Alex Sawyer said: “There are 2,000 children in temporary accommodation and that is 2,000 wasted opportunities.

“It is imperative we find solutions to our housing problems. Increasing budgets is the easy option, grasping the nettle and finding long term solutions – less so. Initial signs are promising – the number of people in temporary accommodation is starting to fall, albeit slowly.”

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Councillor David Leaf, cabinet member for resources, added: “I recognise the pressures local authorities take. It is always easy to criticise and make up smears about council services, but the reality is our focus is on providing high quality services within the financial envelope available.

“We are looking to invest in services in the medium term, but of course investing requires resources. This is why we have a budget gap. It should not come as a surprise that these figures change, but I would rather we underestimate the resources from government and plan accordingly.”

Like many others, Bexley Council is waiting for the confirmation on the government’s fair funding review, business rates retention, and the adult social care green paper.

Recent research by the Local Government Association (LGA) revealed that one in three councils fear funding for vital services will run dry by 2023.

The LGA, which represents councils in England and Wales, called this week for the next Prime Minister to prioritise local public services and give councils certainty about future funding.