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The Lewisham Poverty Commission held its first meeting last week.

 Lewisham is a great place to live, with a strong and vibrant community. But poverty still blights the lives of tens of thousands of people in Lewisham. 

 Tory austerity has hit Lewisham hard. Cuts to benefits – both for those in work on low pay, and for those unable to work – have made poverty far worse. The scrapping of housing benefit for 18 to 22 year olds is just the latest example. And their huge cuts to  Lewisham Council's funding has limited what we're able to do in response. But despite this, we're determined to do what we can to tackle poverty in our community

 The Lewisham Poverty Commission - set up by Lewisham Council - has brought together Lewisham Councillors, local stakeholders and national experts to examine the impact of poverty in the borough, and develop ideas to tackle poverty locally. 

 The Poverty Commission will seek out the views and experience of local residents, examine what Lewisham is currently doing to tackle poverty, and identify best practice from other councils. In the autumn the commission will publish a final report with recommendations for cutting poverty in Lewisham which will be presented to Mayor and Cabinet for consideration. 

 Councillor Joe Dromey, who is Chairing the Lewisham Poverty Commission said: 'Nobody should have to live in poverty. But despite living in one of the wealthiest cities in the world, tens of thousands of people in our community still live in poverty.

 'Our Lewisham Poverty Commission will bring together local stakeholders and national experts to take a fresh look at the challenge of poverty in Lewisham. We'll be looking to develop innovative policy responses that can make a real difference, even in these difficult times.'

Councillor James Walsh added "Lewisham is committed to ensuring all of its residents, no matter their financial circumstances not only live, but thrive in our Borough. This work isn't just looking at today's problems and wringing our fists, but ensuring we're preparing and insulating our residents from the continued attacks of Tory Austerity".

Tackling Poverty in Lewisham - Lewisham Poverty Commission gets underway

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Lewisham Council yesterday passed a motion unanimously opposing the closure and franchising of New Cross Post Office.

 In January, the Post Office announced its plan to close and franchise 37 Crown Post Offices across the country, including the branch in New Cross.

 The closure would be bad for the local community. New Cross Post Office is well-used and much valued by the local community. Over a thousand local residents have signed a petition opposing the closure.

 The closure would be bad for staff. It would see good quality, skilled jobs with decent pay being replaced by insecure jobs at or close to the minimum wage. The closures put over 400 jobs at risk across the country.

 The closure would be bad for the local economy. The Post Office increases foot-fall on New Cross Road. Its closure would have a detrimental impact on local businesses.

 Cllr Brenda Dacres said; "New Cross Gate Post Office provides a vital service to the local community, and to loose such services will gravely impact residents and local businesses. We must in conjunction with the CWU  and the local campaign to support the post office workers, local residents and businesses to get the closure of New Cross Gate Post Office reconsidered."

 Cllr Joe Dromey said; “closing New Cross Post Office would be bad for staff, bad for our local economy, and bad for our community. We’ve invited the Chief Executive of the Post Office to visit the post office and discuss their plans with us. Over a thousand local residents and the Communication Workers Union have called on them to think again. We hope they will listen.”

 You can sign the petition to Save New Cross Post Office here

Lewisham Labour says Save New Cross Post Office!

 

 

Last night we set the Lewisham Council budget. I wanted to explain to you all why we have had to increase council tax.

In 2010, most of our funding came from central government. But since then, the Tory Government has slashed funding for Lewisham Council, forcing us to make £138.8 million of savings. The Government’s ideologically driven cuts, and their desire to shrink the state, have put us in a terrible situation. Unlike NHS Trusts, or indeed the Government itself, the council is required by law to set a balanced budget. If we do not, then the Government will enforce one on us, with no say for our community.

This year we will increase council tax by 4.99%. We do so with regret, as we know that council tax is a deeply regressive tax, which hits poor working households the hardest. But we do so in an effort to protect - as far as possible - the services that our community relies on in particular Adult Social Care, and the support that we provide to our most vulnerable residents.

 Even in these tough times though, there are still things that we can do to make a difference. We are striving to tackle the Tory housing crisis, by building 2,000 affordable homes including the first council homes in a generation. In Place Ladywell we have delivered an innovative solution for families in temporary accommodation. We were the first Living Wage council in the country. We will continue to pay the real Living Wage, and in the last year, our business rate incentive scheme has more than trebled the number of Living Wage employers in Lewisham.

If you want to find out more about our budget, you can do so here.

We need to continue to fight back against this wretched and deeply ideological government, and make the case for decent funding for councils, and for local services like adult social care. They are putting our NHS at risk. Labour – both locally and nationally – is the Party that speaks for Britain when we say the Government must act now and provide the funding needed to stop the NHS crisis.

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Mayor Steve Bullock 

Message from Mayor Steve Bullock; Tory cuts hit Lewisham hard as Council sets budget

   

Cllr Brenda Dacres, Chair of Labour Group, said "I am pleased Lewisham Council has just agreed to set up an Independent Inquiry to look at the New Bermondsey/Surrey Canal scheme. Public interest, following a series of reports in the media and the concerns expressed by the Council’s own Scrutiny Committee, will be best served if we make sure every effort is made to discover the facts.

Our priorities have been that the inquiry is independent and that all relevant matters are investigated.

Lewisham Council has been a model for good services and engaging the community. The Council's reputation has been undermined, and it is of vital concern to all Labour councillors that we restore that reputation and public confidence in the Council. We also want to reassure all our residents, as well as Millwall Football Club and its supporters, and others who were affected by the proposed CPO, that we take this matter extremely seriously.

 The investigation must be full and proper and, while it is urgent, we must allow it to take its course.

We all want to get at the truth. Our tasks now are to make sure we allow the Inquiry to be set up in a genuinely independent manner, let whoever is appointed get on with job, free of any obstruction, and await the outcome. I hope all those who share our ambition will join us in so doing. We owe it to the people of Lewisham."

Lewisham Labour Statement on new Bermondsey/ Surrey Canal Independent Inquiry

Cllr Brenda Dacres, Chair of Labour Group, said "I am pleased Lewisham Council has just agreed to set up an Independent Inquiry to look at the New Bermondsey/Surrey Canal scheme....

Today Lewisham Council passed its budget for 2017/2018 which saw central government grant squeezed by £11.7 million, bringing the Council’s general budget down to £232 million.  

This year we have also been forced to increase council tax by 4.99% in an effort to protect - as far as possible - the services that our community relies on in particular social care and the support that we provide to our most vulnerable residents.  

Council Tax is not a fair tax – it is a blunt measure that hits poor working households the hardest.  Yet the Tory Government have decided that Council Tax increases by local councils can solve the national social care crisis. They could not be more wrong. Not only will Council Tax increases not cover the increased demand (even Tory Surrey Council were planning a 15% increase until they reached a special arrangement with their Tory minister colleagues), but inner city areas like Lewisham are harder hit because we have proportionately more social need and fewer higher rate council tax payers.

The cumulative impact of ten years of actual and planned Tory and Lib Dem cuts will mean that Lewisham’s budget will have been cut by 63% during the period 2010 -2020. The impact has been stark so far: Lewisham Council is now almost half the size it was in 2010, with 2,185 staff compared to 3,937 in 2010. We know only too well that despite our best attempts, most residents using Council services will have noticed that we cannot always do as much or as quickly as we did before.   

In the face of the grim outlook, we want to pay tribute to our staff across the Council who are doing a remarkable job ensuring residents get the essential services and support they need. The Council is trying innovative solutions, including sharing services with other boroughs. Most recently, sharing our information technology service with Brent Council has saved over £1 million per year and has enabled our social workers to use effective mobile technology when working on the move. Also, by working with a strong local community, we are able to keep all 12 public libraries open.

And we will strive to deliver Labour priorities too. We are tackling the Tory housing crisis by building 2,000 affordable homes including the first council homes in a generation. In Place Ladywell we have delivered an innovative solution for families in temporary accommodation. We were the first Living Wage council in the country. We will continue to pay the real Living Wage, and in the last year, our business rates incentive scheme has more than trebled the number of Living Wage employers in Lewisham.

Finally, we are very proud that our Lewisham Offer for Syrian Refugees has found homes for initially 10 vulnerable refugee families from the horrific war in Syria. None of these homes has come from the Council’s social stock in order not to add pressure to the housing crisis, but have been offered from the local community as a result of the Council’s collaboration with local volunteers including Lewisham Citizens and many local faith groups and charities.

 Lewisham may have lost millions in our financial resources, but our strongest resource is our people. Labour in Lewisham recognises that fact – by working together we will survive this reckless Tory Government and keep local services delivering however hard it gets.

 If you want to find out more about our budget, you can do so here.

Tory government cuts continue to hit Lewisham hard

Today Lewisham Council passed its budget for 2017/2018 which saw central government grant squeezed by £11.7 million, bringing the Council’s general budget down to £232 million.   This year we have...

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