Hackney council given until 20 November to get its house in order.

Hackney Council has finally been officially ordered by the government to get its financial house in order and balance its budget.

Secretary of state Stephen Byers issued the council with statutory directions that require it to initiate improvements in education, social services, waste management, housing benefits and to make the budget balance.

The move follows the commissioning of Deloitte & Touche to recruit senior finance managers for the beleaguered council.

Byers’ order to balance the budget follows consultation between Hackney and five government departments, including education secretary Estelle Morris (above with children from Swanlea School, East London last month), who has told the council to create a new education directorate.

Hackney is now required to publish action plans by 30 November showing how it will introduce a system of financial control and stability without further government support.

Byers said: ‘We now expect the council to comply with these directions and to begin to provide the quality of services that local residents want and deserve.’ Jules Pipe, Hackney’s leader, said: ‘The directions issued (last week) are achievable with government support and we are continuing discussions with civil servants.’

A spokesperson for the DTLR said the council had been given permission to borrow additional money to clear its deficit.

The DTLR said it would expect Hackney to find efficiencies and improve revenue collection to implement the directives.

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