Lambeth has today announced its budget for 2016/17 following another round of national cuts from the government.
Since 2010 Lambeth has had its budget reduced by 56% – that’s more than £200 million – a move that has had a devastating impact on the borough’s finances.
Talking about the cuts and today's budget announcement, Cllr Peck, the leader of Lambeth Labour, said:
"At this week’s meeting of Lambeth Council, we heard from Professor Tony Travers of the London School of Economics, who laid out in stark terms the changing nature of local government under this Tory Government. By 2020, our funding from government will have disappeared, leaving us solely dependent on business rates and Council Tax (which together make up only 2/3rd of our current income).
"While this offers us significant opportunities to harness the benefits of growth in homes and businesses as a borough at the heart of London, there are also huge risks. By abolishing the grant, the Government is bringing an end to the important idea that areas with the highest need should get the extra resources they require to help vulnerable people. That is an idea that is integral to our Labour values of fairness and equal opportunity and it is important that we fight back strongly against this demolition of local government.
"The scale of the financial task is the toughest challenge we’ve ever faced. We’ve saved £138 million already. But we have to find another £100 million in the years ahead."
In light of this environment, today's budget means the council will be reducing its size with less staff employed and savings in most areas, including the cultural services budget. In Vassall, you can read about the impact of this on local parks and the Minet library here. The council also confirmed that in order to support existing services, it will be raising Council Tax by 1.99%, along with the additional 2% Government precept for Adult Social Care (read more about this here).
In better news, the council will be seeking too:
- Protect the award winning Violence Against Women and Girls work
- Prioritise children & adult services as much as possible
- Work with communities to maintain youth and play services
- Focus on mitigating the impact of Government welfare reforms with the welfare assistance work
- Maintain Council Tax Support Scheme to help those who can’t afford to pay
- Continue its crack down on fly tipping, littering and dog fouling
“Lambeth has suffered years of unfair national cuts that were added to again by the Tories at the recent spending review. We have as a borough many vulnerable residents who depend on council services for support, especially older people, those with mental health issues and mobility challenges. More than half of our budget is spent on these vital services, such as funding the sheltered accommodation complexes in Vassall as well as services that reach out deep into some of our most deprived communities. This is something as your local councillors, we regard as an absolute priority.
“As a council, we have to set a balanced budget by law so there is little room for manoeuvre or borrowing, but we are glad the council is protecting key services, like the award winning violence against women and girls work. Lambeth Labour will also continue towards its target of building a 1,000 council homes by 2018, setting up ways of tackling rogue landlords in the private sector and working with businesses to create jobs for local people. As local councillors, we are going to maintain our campaigns on issues that matter to residents, including the recent crackdown on fly tipping and campaigning for clean air in South London.
“We aren’t going to pretend this isn’t an incredibly difficult situation and its one that the current government are unfairly forcing on Lambeth: its undoubtedly time they woke up to the damage their policies are causing to our local communities.”