Deputy Leader of the Council (Finance & Resources), Councillor Imogen Walker
Strategic Director Corporate Resources, Jackie Belton
Contact: Director of Finance, Christina Thompson
CThompson3@lambeth.gov.uk; 0207 926 5302
The Leader of the Council, Cllr Lib Peck, noted that an agenda supplement had been published on Friday 8th December and circulated to members. She checked that all cabinet members had considered the additional information before proceeding with the consideration of the item.
The Deputy Leader of the Council (Finance and Resources), Cllr Imogen Walker, introduced the report and said the Council once again faced difficult decisions when setting the budget. The money available continued to fall as core funding from government was cut and the revenue generated through council tax and local business rates did not make up the shortfall. Generally it cost more, year on year, to deliver the same services for the people of Lambeth.
Cllr Walker stated that the current Budget made prudent use of the Council’s assets and local services continued to offer good value for money. Further savings had been identified which were projected to reduce the current funding gap from £8.670m to £2.037m. Members were asked to note the proposed Council Tax Support (CTS) scheme, the London Business rates Pilot Pool, and the Capital Investment Programme to 2019/20.
The Director of Finance and Property, Christina Thompson, remarked that while some savings had been identified, the Council needed to manage the entire funding gap. The Medium Term Financial Strategy identified the areas of continued pressure, these included Children’s Social Care staffing, the reduction in the Better Care Fund grant and Special Educational Needs transport costs. The ongoing costs of administering Subject Access Requests (SARs) and the one-off costs associated with the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) were also noted. Ms Thompson then explained the governance arrangements around the London Business rates Pilot Pool and noted that the changes to the CTS would also go to Council in January 2018.
Cabinet members then made the following observations:
· The report laid bare the continued financial difficulties faced by the Council. Such was the extent of previous savings, that it was no longer clear where further changes could be made without putting service users at risk. All additional social care funding was tied up in attempting to balance the budget and did not represent new investment from government.
· The Chairman of the King’s College Hospital Foundation Trust had recently resigned citing NHS funding and unrealistic demands for savings. These pressures also impacted on the Council.
· Adult Social Care spending represented more than a quarter of the Council’s overall budget and the services were largely demand led. Demand was increasing and so too was the cost. The Better Care Fund (BCF) was the key to ongoing provision of services.
In response to questions from members, Christina Thompson provided the following information:
· The BCF funding formed part of the Council’s base budget and the additional grant funding of £13m would be received over three years. Current financial pressures in Adult Social Care of approximately £4.5m were offset by the grant received to date. In order to manage the pressures identified in 2021, when the grant was ... view the full minutes text for item 3