26 February 2016

Lambeth passes budget for 2016/17

Lambeth council has passed its budget this week following another round of deep cuts to the borough's finances from central government.

As Vassall View reported last month, the council has lost 56% of its budget since 2010 with £200 million expected to be cut from the borough's finances by 2018.



Speaking about the budget, Cllr Lib Peck, leader of Lambeth council, said:

"{At January's council meeting}, 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."

The budget will:
  • 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.
  • Increase council tax by 1.99% along with an additional 2% Govenment precept for Adult Social care (read more about it here).
  • Result in Lambeth becoming smaller organisation with reductions in staffing levels.
  • Move forward with savings in Lambeth's cultural services budget - you can read about the impact on Vassall here (the council is currently considering a proposal on an alternative plan on libraries at present).
Lambeth's opposition conservative presented an alternative budget which you can read here. Vassall councillor Paul Gadsby responded to it (you can hear the audio here from 51.50) pointing out that the borough's chief finance officer had noted that it"reduced Lambeth’s income base, failed to cut the deficit and could only be delivered with a “significant degree of risk”. The Green party failed to present an alternative budget for the second year running.