Croydon Council: bottom of the league for young and old alike

By - Thursday 2nd June, 2016

Conservative activist Stuart Millson isn’t impressed with where Croydon sits in the ‘league tables’ of London’s councils

Bernard Weatherill House, Croydon Council’s headquarters.
Photo by Tadle88, used under Creative Commons licence.

League tables comparing the performance of each London council across all key services show Croydon to be at or near the bottom of the pile for key measurements in education and adult social care. Wandsworth Council, in a bid to monitor its own performance and share the results with residents, collates data reported to the government by every London council. Given Croydon’s commitment to being the ‘most open and transparent council in history’ you might expect to find something similar on Croydon Council’s website – until you see the position of Croydon on many of the tables.

Croydon is, on any measure, the worst place in London for a 7-11 year old to go to school. It comes last of London’s 32 boroughs for overall attainment, with just 78% of pupils reaching the expected level in reading, writing, and maths at key stage 2 (which is measured at the end of primary school). And this is not due to demographics, or poor attainment in general before reaching primary school. In every area; reading, writing and maths; Croydon is 32nd out of 32 for progress from key stage 1 to 2.

It is true that with the increasing academisation of schools in the borough, as elsewhere, Croydon Council is not responsible for every school. However, even excluding academies and free schools, the council is currently responsible for more than half of primary/junior schools, and standards are currently desperately low. Most shamingly, it is disadvantaged children who are let down most by the council’s failings. As bad as Croydon’s performance is for all children, it is even worse for the worst off – only 2 boroughs have a bigger gap in key stage 2 attainment between well-off children and those from poor backgrounds, a truly shocking statistic given Croydon’s poor attainment scores overall.

In Croydon, community care and support is almost non-existent

It is not just Croydon’s children who are being failed by its council, however. Croydon is also towards the bottom of the list on many measures of its Adult Services department, particularly those measures which relate to the care of frail and elderly residents.

In Croydon, just 1.7%, or 1 in every 60, older people receive rehabilitation or intermediate care following a hospital episode, putting it 31st out of London’s 32 boroughs. The failure of councils to work together with the NHS to support patients when they leave hospital is one of the key reasons for the current pressure on hospitals. Peter Carter, the Chief Executive of the Royal College of Nurses, has spoken publicly about this strain, saying that nurses “all too often discharge a healthy patient only to see them return to hospital with complications caused by a lack of community care and support”. In Croydon, community care and support is almost non-existent, and worse than almost anywhere else in London.

One measure of the Adult Services department which is particularly telling is the overall satisfaction of carers, the friends and family members who know the users of social services the best, with the service they receive. This is another area where Croydon props up the table – 31st out of 32 in London, with just a 25.5% satisfaction rating.

Sports fans are well aware of the phrase ’the table never lies’

It is especially damning for Croydon to be lagging behind other boroughs in Adult Services, given that it is the responsibility of the council’s People Department, which was projecting a huge £11.4 million overspend mid-way through the last financial year, the majority of which comes from the provision of Adult Services. The overspend, in conjunction with the department’s shocking underperformance in comparison with similar boroughs, tells a story of a chaotic, badly managed department which is unable to deliver value for money for its users. Other boroughs face the same pressures on which Croydon Council have blamed the overspend – it is only Croydon Council which has blown its budget at the same time as it delivers grossly substandard services.

Sports fans are well aware of the phrase ’the table never lies’, and the story told of by these tables, showing the underperformance of Croydon Council in comparison with other London boroughs, is stark. Each borough faces similar demographic and budgetary challenges as Croydon, but manages to deliver key services at a much higher level. Instead of grandstanding about government cuts, Croydon’s Labour council must focus on the fundamentals of delivering education and adult services at a level which is at least equivalent to what residents would get in other parts of London.

At the end of the season, when Crystal Palace fans looked at the league table, they could at least console themselves with the thought of an FA Cup final appearance. When they look at the league position of their local council, Croydon citizens might conclude that it’s time for a change of manager.

Stuart Millson

Stuart Millson

Stuart moved to Croydon in September 2015 and is still surprised at how quickly it has become a well-loved home. He helps investment companies better communicate their products to customers, with a mission to 'invest the un-invested', and in his spare time campaigns for the Conservative party.

More Posts - Twitter

  • Anne Giles

    Excellent article.

  • Marcus Churchill

    I don’t wish to be rude, but some might say this is naïve, contrived nonsense.
    “Each borough faces similar demographic and budgetary challenges as Croydon” – sorry, but have you not been to Richmond, Bromley or Barnet? They certainly do not face similar demographic challenges as Croydon.
    Croydon faces extra pressures in terms of population growth, income inequality, poverty and an unfair, low grant from Government.
    Better off boroughs and counties often lose out less that the poorer areas. Note how leafy Surrey got a fabulous `transition’ deal compared for Croydon, which clearly has higher social need which was ignored.
    So your league table theory might sound good, but I don’t think it’s a fair reflection. Nonetheless Stuart, an interesting read.

  • Sean Creighton

    The problems identified have been long in the making. The current Labour administration only came to power in May 2014; previously it was the Conservatives for 8 years. These problems should not be subject to party political point scoring, but through the Scrutiny process to a bi-partisan examination of what needs to be done to improve things.