The Deputy Leader (Finance and Investment) introduced the report as the first post-general election look at finances with austerity set to continue, working age benefits frozen, limits on benefits, and a 1% social housing (year-on-year) reduction; representing an ongoing attack on social housing. Public sector staff had also received pay freezes, whilst National Living Wage had been increased, but funding had not increased to meet these new demands and this would need to be reviewed after the Autumn/Winter statement. There was a need for further savings between £49-75 million, with a central estimate of £62.2 million. The loss of up to £2 million of public health funding and the £25 million housing benefit overpayment remained key risks. The report represented a stark scenario up to 2019, although it still represented a solid programme. Councillor McGlone concluded by bringing attention to the Council Tax Support scheme which supported Lambeth’s most vulnerable and was unique in London (pages 64-66, agenda pack).
The Leader of the Council praised the clarity of the report, commenting that it represented depressing news, and invited attendees to give views:
· The Strategic Director of Enabling observed that the £62.2 million remaining deficit was broken down over each of the next three years: balanced in 2016-17, and shortfalls of £35.2m in 2017-18 and £27.0m in 2018-19; and was yet to be built into the process. Consultation for Council Tax Support in summer would be fed into the February 2016 new Community Plan, setting out the Council’s strategy and finances for 2016-20.
· The Cabinet Member for Jobs and Growth commented that the report was distressing and would have been ideal to frame the estate regeneration item. He commended the work, especially around social value, with the Council providing more for nothing. It would need private sector help to deliver and represented a squeeze for residents as would be residents who suffered the most.
· The Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care commended the Council Tax Support scheme, noting that social care was a demand-led service for which it was not possible to state financing needs in advance. There was a link between capital projects and financing, with carers and vulnerable persons in need of housing, which could only be met with expensive packages, and needed to be integrated with housing.
· The Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing agreed that social care was a high cost area and with related central government developments had seen people’s finances devastated, forcing relocation; he concluded by asking if communication with Whitehall regarding care costs had been initiated.
· The Leader of the Council commented that these were toxic combinations with further social policy changes from local government including selling off void council homes and right to buy flexibility, and would see a move from a £18 million servicing gap to £62.2 million.
· The Strategic Director of Enabling informed attendees that there had not yet been communication with central government and no detail of proposals had been seen, so the Council was not in a position to comment further, but the high value of properties in Lambeth would likely see it in the top end of these impacts.
The Leader of the Council extended her congratulations and thanks to the Strategic Director of Enabling for his hard work, noting that this would be his final Cabinet meeting before leaving the Council.
1. To re-affirm the Council’s commitment to delivering the agreed revenue savings planned for 2015/16 (£35.4m savings) and 2016/17 (£36.8m savings) as set out in paragraph 2.1.
2. To approve the amendment of the 2015/16 cash limit from £291.068m to £290.886m set out in paragraphs 2.13 – 2.17.
3. To approve the revenue virements set out in paragraphs 4.32 – 4.38.
4. To approve the basis for consulting on Lambeth’s proposed 2016/17 localised Council Tax Support scheme.
5. To note the 2014/15 General Fund outturn of £316.12m against a budget of £314.83m.
6. To note the key revenue risks for 2015/16 as set out in paragraph 4.22 onwards.
7. To note the balanced outturn for the 2014/15 Housing Revenue Account.
8. To note the capital investment outturn of £178.3m against the 2014/15 budget of £211.3m as detailed in paragraphs 5.8 – 5.11.
9. To note the commitment to include £6m in the capital investment pipeline for Brixton Recreation Centre in paragraph 5.15.
10. To note the capital virements agreed under delegated authority as set out in Appendix 5.
11. To note the changes to the Capital Investment Programme for 2015/16 as set out in paragraphs 5.16 – 5.21.
12. To note the proposed three year Capital Investment Programme for the period 2015/16 to 2017/18 of £327.8m as described in paragraph 5.20 and summarised in Appendix 2.