PEOPLE in Ealing are being warned there will be a major squeeze on council budgets over the next five years.

Council leader Julian Bell says it is likely to result in significant changes to many services.

The council’s cabinet this week reviewed the medium-term financial plan, which sets out an unprecedented saving target of £96m by April 2019.

The amount has been set in anticipation of ongoing reductions to government support, which funds 43% of what the council spends to run its services.

In addition, it reflects increasing demands on services, in particular adult social care, a shortage of housing with more families needing council help and rising costs. Ealing will also need to fund the expansion of schools to ensure there are places for an increasing number of children living in the borough.

Over the five years, it expects the amount available to spend on services will drop by 40%.

Cllr Bell said: “I want local people to understand the scale of cuts being forced on the council.

“I am determined we protect the most vulnerable, distribute cuts as fairly as possible and consult on difficult decisions.”

The latest saving target comes on top of the £87m of budget reductions the council has agreed since 2010.

The majority of these cuts have already been made and the remaining £8.9m will be delivered by next April.

Ealing has frozen council tax for the past six years and pledged to continue the freeze again next year.

Cllr Yvonne Johnson, cabinet member for finance, said: “No decisions have yet been taken about where the latest savings will be made.

“Over the coming months, we will look at every council service and carefully consider how services could be provided at a lower cost.”

Despite the grim picture, Ealing has agreed to invest £7.05m in providing more permanent and temporary places for children at three borough primary schools, St Joseph’s Catholic School, Hanwell, Mayfield, also in Hanwell, and East Acton.