In introducing the report the Cabinet Member for Finance, Councillor Andy Wilson, explained that:
· This was a time of major uncertainty for the UK due to Brexit and for local councils due to the Government’s austerity agenda.
· Jobs and the economy were at risk due to the Government’s failure to deal with Brexit.
· The budget meant that the Council continued to provide services to vulnerable residents.
· Even though the budget was balanced there was still uncertainty on any future finance settlement from the Government.
· This budget protected the most vulnerable residents and delivered on an ambitious manifesto pledge, for a better, fairer Lambeth.
He further stated that:
· Over the next year £500,000 would be invested into tackling serious youth violence with a further £1 million the year after.
· A business rates discount scheme would be introduced for local firms that follow Lambeth Council’s lead and pay the London Living Wage.
· Spending was protected on child and adolescent mental health (CAMHS), benefits advice, and violence against women and girl’s (VAWG) services.
· As a result of considering the views of 4,000 residents who responded to the budget consultation, plans to make savings in the library service were scrapped.
· As part of the commitment to continuing to invest in the borough despite austerity, £131 million would be invested over the next two years in roads and pavements, parks and homes.
· Cabinet were committed to delivering the policy to double the council tax on empty homes.
Councillor Wilson also summarised the responses from the budget consultation sent out to residents and highlighted:
· The key findings, 46% of residents agreed/strongly agreed with the Council’s saving proposals, with 22% disagreed/strongly disagreed.
· 40% agreed/strongly agreed, with 23% disagreed/strongly disagreed, that the budget proposals would enable the Council to achieve its priorities.
· Residents placed services for children, tackling youth violence and community safety as their top three areas for the Council to prioritise.
Councillor Donatus Anyanwu, Chair of Overview and Scrutiny, addressed Cabinet and noted that both the Overview and Scrutiny Committee and the Children’s Scrutiny Sub-Committee considered the budget proposals in great detail and advised that:
· Assurance was needed that the proposed income on fees and charges was realistic, and the Committees would continue to monitor this.
· Raising the reserve from 7% to 10% would have an impact on frontline services and Scrutiny Members were concerned about this.
· Agency staff needed to be reduced otherwise savings would be difficult to achieve.
· There was concern on the service changes proposed in Children’s Services and Adult Social Care and the impact these could have on the borough’s most vulnerable residents, as well as the feasibility of delivering the savings proposed.
Councillor Pete Elliott, Green Party Councillor, gave the following representation:
· All public services should be properly funded by central Government, and the most vulnerable should be put first.
· He was surprised there was no review of the estate demolition plans, as the programme would destroy hundreds of council homes with no new housing.
· The estate demolition plans were ... view the full minutes text for item 3