The report was introduced by the Cabinet Member for Finance and Performance, Councillor Andy Wilson. He highlighted that:
· Local government financing was uncertain, with Government’s Fair Funding Review and Business Rates Retention both stalled; and further compounded by the unpredictable political landscape.
· The expected four-year Government spending review had not occurred, instead there had been a one-year cyclical spending round causing difficulties in planning for the future.
· Lambeth was currently overspending in Children’s Services and was managing Adults and Health pressures with one-off funding; with both areas having uncertainty of future income.
· The last Budget review identified a £38m spending gap and Lambeth was still required to find an additional £6m savings, but aside from £100,000, no savings would impact on frontline services and was to come from efficiencies and improved income generation.
Cabinet next heard from Councillor Liz Atkins, Chair of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee (OSC):
· The protection of frontline services and the most vulnerable was welcomed, but the difficulty of setting financial strategies with one year funding commitments and Brexit impacts was noted.
· Further information was required on addressing climate change, business rates pooling, and the forthcoming business rate evaluation.
· The effects of the Public Works Loan Board (PWLB) 1% rate increase on the capital programme was queried.
· The focus on growth was welcomed, especially given the difficulties of meeting savings in Adults’ and Children’s Social Care.
· Reviews of council tax and voluntary contributions were needed.
· Resident Services covered most savings, but were failing to recover income on waste and events.
· The impact of cuts on the most vulnerable concerned the OSC, which did not want to see funding balanced on those suffering the most and requested that service delivery offer value for money and positive outcomes. Evidence of progression on the proposals would also be required.
· It was requested to include CIPFA benchmarking on future reports to compare with peers and assess whether the Council was meeting its residents’ needs.
Councillor Pete Elliott, Green Party Opposition Standards and Monitoring Member, noted that:
· The absence of frontline Adults and Children’s Social Care savings was welcomed, but it was queried why more savings from Policy and Communications, and Legal and Governance, could not be made.
· There was little evidence of resources being used for the climate emergency; with the cycling infrastructure capital investment too low to create liveable neighbourhoods and car-free roads.
· High levels of incinerated waste meant increasing investment in waste and recycling was negated.
· Lambeth’ Housing Standard was poor and needed improvement, and raised questions on the Council’s contractor relationships, whilst empty properties investment and not estate regeneration was required.
In response to the above representations, Cabinet Members advised that:
· Cabinet, nor the Council, was complaisant with contractors and put the interests of residents first.
· Lambeth had upgraded 23,000 homes over the last five years, improving residents’ lives.
· The housing focus and priorities had been decided by residents, with the considerable investment the first in 30 years and Lambeth could be proud of its delivery.
· Voluntary ... view the full minutes text for item 3