Today the Tory Government announced massive funding cuts to local government that will hit Lewisham Council – and local public services – hard.
Most of the funding for Lewisham Council comes from the Government, with Council Tax only making up a small amount. Since 2010, the Tories have cut the funding they give to Lewisham Council by tens of millions of pounds. The cuts announced today will reduce our funding by a further £38 million, from £160 million now to just £122 million by 2019/20. This is equivalent to a further 24% reduction. This comes at a time when there are increasing demands on council services.
Local councils are required by law to set a balanced budget. If they don’t, the Government sends in accountants to make the cuts without any accountability to local people.
We’ve done our best to minimise the impact of the cuts on our community and on valued public services; through making savings to the back-office and delivering services more efficiently. However, the scale of the ongoing cuts from the Tory Government will make this increasingly difficult to prevent a real impact on local services.
We will continue to look for ways to maintain services for local residents, including through community-run services – as we are doing with some libraries – moving more services online or sharing services with other councils. We will always consult with services users and the wider community to ensure people can have their say on any proposed changes. But, despite all our best efforts, the next few years will be exceptionally hard for the Council.
The Tory Government needs to reconsider the speed and scale of the cuts it is forcing on local people. Lewisham Labour will continue to do its best in these difficult circumstances. We will work with other councils to fight the massive cuts being forced on us, but to date our arguments about the negative impact of these cuts – including on the NHS – have fallen on deaf ears. These cuts are clearly an attempt to wither local government and shrink the state.
Mayor Steve Bullock said “Once again, this Tory government has shown its complete disregard for the vital and important work we do in local government, and in turn has shown it does not care what effect its decisions have on the residents of Lewisham. The last five and a half years under this government have been one long exercise in shrinking the state. We’re told this is to balance the books, and yet it is local government who repeatedly balances the books while the government in Westminster does not. This latest round of cuts to local government will hurt the people in boroughs like Lewisham, the most, they will not make Britain or London a better or more equal place to live, and they will inevitably jeopardise our ability to look after and support the most vulnerable in our society. We will continue to do our best for the people of Lewisham in what continues to be a very difficult time for Councils across the country.”
Councillor Kevin Bonavia, Cabinet Member for Resources said “the Tories just don't get how brutal their cuts have been to local councils - David Cameron recently complained to his own council in Oxfordshire about local service changes and was given a lesson by his own Tory council leader as to the impact of his government's cuts. The Tory cuts are harsher on Lewisham because of the Government's unfair approach in providing even less to inner city areas. Here in Lewisham we will do our best to survive in these unfair times and keep local services going, especially for our most vulnerable residents.”