Lewisham Council will next week discuss proposed cuts across a number of areas next year and beyond.
A report states “In Lewisham the Council’s spending power has
been reduced by 26% in real terms while the population has grown by over 30,000
over that time period or 12%, increasing the demand for services”.
The pandemic has added strain on existing problems:
“At the end of September with evidence of the second wave emerging, the
impact for this year was estimated at £67m and rising. To date the committed
government support still does not cover the full impact, with a gap for the Council of near £20m in this financial year and £12m through the collection fund built into future years. This includes £7.5m of cuts which are at risk as they are still to be delivered in full and were part of the 2021/20 budget cuts of £16.6m”.
The authority claim many savings can be made through efficiencies. Blackheath fireworks are due to be “paused” until 2023.
Alongside other events being cancelled, savings of £70,000 are forecast.
In terms of staffing, a freeze in budgets is proposed despite committing to standard wage rises. This would mean a reduction in staff via reduced use of temporary staff and “efficiencies”. Some roles will not be filled when vacant.
Another method being looked at to save money is utilising council sites for 250 homes, providing rental income and alleviating the use of short term emergency accommodation.
The authority is also seeking to convert existing property for short term temporary accommodation.
One controversial proposal is “Housing – Increased rent for Private Sector Lease (PSL) and Private Managed Accommodation (PMA)”. They aim to raise an extra £300,000 in 2021/22.
Increased funeral charges could raise £250,000. Social care will see large cuts across a range of areas. Offices will be based in fewer buildings in Catford town centre.
There are far more proposed cuts and service charge increases. In addition, additional Government payments to local authorities may bridge some of the gap and reduce cuts needed.