Councillor Alan Hall spoke on behalf of Lewisham Labour at the full Council Budget setting meeting on Wednesday, 22nd February to accept the Mayor of Lewisham’s proposed budget. He said:
“No-one likes us we don’t care! That is not the motto of the London Borough of Lewisham.
We will be increasing local taxes on residents and businesses will be paying more as the Government cuts our overall budget. There is a perfect storm. We will be raising taxes whilst reducing services.
We do care: That’s why we are increasing Council tax by the 4.99% including the social care precept. There is a social care crisis in this country.
I met Janet Senior and David Austin our Finance Officers earlier today to discuss the Government’s final local government settlement that was announced this afternoon – very late in the day – we will still have £10 – 11 million shortfall in our existing social care budgets.
The precept will barely cover the cost of the London Living Wage.
Coupled with the NHS STP – Slash, Trash and Privatise plan -across South East London social care will be at least £230 million short. This will increase pressures on the local NHS. Councillor John Muldoon and I met the Chief Executive of Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust and the Finance Director of King’s College NHS Foundation Trust recently. Both highlight underlying deficits in the tens of millions. This is real money and does affect patients.
Earlier today I saw a tweet from Councillor Christine Grice – a former senior director of Education here in Lewisham: She said ‘It’s a worrying time to be a school governor, budget cuts and teacher shortages now.’
She has the expertise and she is right. Many of you here today are school governors. I would like to ask the Council to monitor and support schools who find themselves in real difficulties. I applaud the Lewisham Schools’ Forum with their PFI Factor, top slice fund. Cooperating together to ease the pain of financial reductions.
We should remember over £200 million has been taken out of our budget since 2010 all in the name of austerity.
It has been said: ‘The Government chose austerity over growth”
Mayor Steve Bullock was absolutely right when he said this in our manifesto in 2014. It is a conscious policy to cut public expenditure.
Our budget is the expression of the Council’s priorities and by extension of our Labour values. The main one of fairness. And, in Lewisham – togetherness.
On the positive side of the balance sheet we can be proud that we pay the London Living Wage. That we build affordable and social housing, for example.
As a Council we support cooperation: We achieve more together than we do alone.
- Credit Unions to make finance accessible
- Youth First – our mutual youth service – protecting services for young people
- The Fellowship Inn – restoration and social regeneration in Bellingham cooperating with Phoenix Community Housing [I declare my interest]
- Most recently, Lewisham Music Service is secure. And, soon to be a new tenant in the Fellowship Inn a co-operative hub!
We must remember that the Labour Mayor of London Sadiq Khan is trying to ameliorate the worst excesses of Tory policy. Chair, you taught him well at secondary school…
This is the penultimate budget that Steve will propose. He has steered us well. There is likely to be a Council who will face setting an unbalaned budget and it will not be us.
In these stormy economic waters local government finds itself social care is over two thirds of our budget.
No one likes us we don’t care
We do care
We care because we are Labour – I second this budget.”
Full Council of the London Borough of Lewisham met on 22nd February 2017 and the agenda and Budget Reports are here