Decision Maker: Cabinet
Decision status: Recommendations Approved
Is Key decision?: Yes
Is subject to call in?: Yes
The Financial Planning Report will focus on
the Resource Allocation Process for 2015/16 with the intention that
agreed savings proposals will be submitted to Cabinet for
ratification and recommendation to Council in order to set a
balanced budget. Provisional proposals will also be developed for
2016/17 and 2017/18.
(Agenda item 6) (Key Decision – call-in deadline ends Friday 19 December 2014)
The Deputy Leader, Finance and Investment, introduced the report, noting that the recommendations in the report were asking for agreement to changes to agreed savings. The report set out the financial challenges faced by the Council, which were set to continue given the recent government announcement to continue the programme of austerity for some years to come. The political response to this at Lambeth was to harness the benefits of economic growth, building new homes and nurturing partnership working including work carried out with health partners and schools. A set of plans had been developed to deliver the required savings gap of £90m and the Council had managed to deliver a balanced budget over the next two years. He emphasised that an important contribution to closing the savings gap would come from an increase in council tax, and whilst it was fully understood that this was very difficult for residents given the overall financial constraints faced by many, it was important to generate additional income from council tax to enable the Council to continue to deliver the best possible outcomes for residents.
The Deputy Leader, Policy, noted that she did not agree with the government’s continued attack on deprived areas; however, it was important to make every effort to continue to deliver the best outcomes for residents despite this and the Council was working closely with a range of partners to achieve this.
The Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods, Councillor Jane Edbrooke, noted that revenue was being used wisely to produce the best outcomes for residents and additionally, the Council was continuously trying to generate additional income where possible to counterbalance the reduction in funding. She mentioned a recent decision to move to a new CCTV system across the borough which would save the Council a significant amount of money which could then be spent elsewhere. There would be some difficult decisions around community safety in coming months but she noted that the Council was working closely with key partners to continue to deliver on key outcomes within the community safety area.
The Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, Councillor Jim Dickson, noted that the current savings target was the largest that the Council had ever had to take out of its budget and the figure was set to increase still further. It was therefore anticipated that there would be some very difficult decisions to take over the next few months and years but officers and Members alike continued to work incredibly hard to ensure that the best possible outcomes continued to be delivered to residents in spite of this challenge. It would be important to continue to be honest and transparent with residents and key stakeholders in respect of the difficult decisions that would need to be made. Reconfiguration of services was a key part of being able to deliver excellent services, including for example the planned future integration of health and social care.
The Cabinet Member for Housing, Councillor Matthew Bennett, thanked the Deputy Leader, Finance and Investment, and officers for their extremely hard work in developing the proposals in the report.
The Cabinet Member for Environment and Sustainability, Councillor Jenny Brathwaite, noted all of the hard work carried out over recent months in addressing the financial challenges and the culture change required to withstand the continued financial challenges for the future. She highlighted recent work such as the Street Champion Scheme as one of many good initiatives developed recently which would make a real difference to people’s lives.
The Cabinet Member for Children and Adult Services, Councillor Jackie Meldrum, mentioned the significant amount of money required within the social care budget which was necessary to protect those most vulnerable in the borough, and the need to transform these services going forward to ensure that the best possible outcomes were delivered to vulnerable residents also in the future. The Cabinet Member for Early Years, Youth and Families had done a tremendous amount of work in respect of the LEAP project which would make a real difference to children across the borough.
The Cabinet Member for Jobs and Growth, Councillor Jack Hopkins, noted that the borough was in many ways a rich borough in respect of the many thriving and upcoming businesses and industries and emphasised the need to take advantage of these to ensure continued economic growth for the future. It was important that the Council supported local businesses as this would enable many more people to get into work and therefore support themselves financial in future years.
The Leader of the Council, Councillor Lib Peck, stated that the financial climate in which the Council operated continued to be bleak, with continuing cuts, and that the Council would need to make some very difficult decisions on the areas which were key priorities for residents, including the environment, social care provision and education. It was important that the Council continued to lobby central government on a cross-party basis in a bid to stop further cuts. She also noted the efforts which had gone into restructuring the Council recently and the focus on preventative strategies. She thanked all those involved with developing these proposals and paid a special thanks to the Director, Integrated Support, who had worked extremely hard on developing and finalising the robust proposals.
The Deputy Leader, Finance and Investment, ended the debate by noting that the decisions being made were very difficult but that the Council had worked very hard in developing proposals in good time and this was very positive.
(1) To agree changes to existing savings proposals for 2015/16 and 2016/17 as set out in Appendix 2.
(2) To agree the new savings proposals for 2015/16 – 2017/18 as set out in Appendix 2.
(3) To note the September 2014/15 General Fund monitor position as set out in paragraphs 4.1 – 4.5.
(4) To note the September 2014/15 HRA monitor position as set out in paragraphs 4.6 – 4.7.
(5) To note the year to date capital position as set out in Section 5.
Report author: Frank Higgins
Publication date: 12/12/2014
Date of decision: 08/12/2014
Decided at meeting: 08/12/2014 - Cabinet
Effective from: 20/12/2014