The highly critical report stated that Hackney had ‘very serious financial and service delivery problems which the Council does not have the capacity to solve without additional help.’
The report concluded that Hackney would be unable to meet this year’s financial commitments and that through a lack of clear political leadership decisions were difficult to make or challenge.
Wendy Thomson, director of inspection at the Audit Commission, said: ‘Hackney is not a well run council and is letting down the people who live in the borough.’
The report catalogued many areas where essential services were not being delivered.
Around 17,000 housing benefit claims were currently waiting assessment, children’s services were not delivered to acceptable standards, refuse collection and street cleaning were not reliable and the local education authority was failing to attract the confidence of schools and headteachers.
The Commission said that by February 2001 the council would have to get its finances in order by agreeing spending cuts, collecting council tax, making housing benefit payments and providing a realistic forecast of its year end deficit.
Max Caller, the council’s managing director, said: ‘Hackney is in a very precarious financial situation and the problems it faces are far worse than anyone imagined, but for the first time we know the true picture.’
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