Haringey Council has used some of the cash raised from disposing of publicly-owned land and buildings to pay for redundancies, an investigation has found.
According to Freedom of Information data, three North London councils – Camden, Haringey and Barnet – have made £684million over six years in capital receipts, the term given to non-recurring income from one-off sales.
Care homes, council houses, community centres and a football club are among the sites that passed into private hands, mostly to pay for capital expenditure elsewhere.
But Haringey also used some of the cash from to pay for “service reforms”, including nearly £8million to help meet the cost of redundancies.
According to research by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, Haringey is one of 64 local authorities to have used capital receipts in this way since 2016.
Early sales included the Hornsey High Street depot, which was sold to Sainsbury’s for £14.1m in January 2015, and the Technopark in Ashley Road, Tottenham, sold for £9m that March to make way for the Harris Academy.
Cash earned through capital receipts is normally ring-fenced for buying other property, but since 2016 changes to government guidelines have allowed councils to use them “flexibly” for service reforms.
Haringey used the income from selling assets in this way to pay for more than £2.1m of service “transformation” in 2017/18.
But it was also one of five local authorities in London to deploy some of the money from capital receipts towards meeting the cost of staff redundancies, spending £3,949,416 in 2016/17 and £4,041,664 in 2017/18.
The council’s total reserves dropped by 38.6 per cent between 2016 and 2019.
From 2016/17 Haringey received £55m in capital receipts, with the former base of the Maya Angelou Family Contact Centre in Keston Road sold for £3.6m to be re-developed for affordable housing. The service has since moved to nearby Winkfield Road.
Elsewhere, the eastern part of the Ashley Road depot was sold for £1.4m to the Harris Federation for sports facilities, and the Kurdish community centre in Harringay for £593,000 to local organisation the Yek-Kurd Community Interest Company.
The council declined to comment on the record.
(edited from an article originally published in the Ham & High)