Southwark Council publishes draft 2018/2019 budget and responds to Draft Local Government Settlement

20 December 2017

Southwark Council remains committed to spending every penny as if it were our own in the face of £12m worth of government funding cuts and major spending pressures for vital public services like adults’ and children’s social care.

The updated budget proposals significantly reduce the budget gap to £5.6m from the £16-£19m gap presented to the council’s cabinet in July 2017.

Demand on adult social care services continues to grow and for 2018/2019 Southwark Council is proposing a sustainable adult social care budget that is £14m larger than last year. This will be made up of growth in the Improved Better Care Fund of £10.9m, raising the adult social care precept by a further 3% and continued efficiency savings in how the council delivers its services.

There are also significant challenges in children’s services and education as the government has withdrawn various grants. The services the council provides to schools are vital components of recent GCSE and A-Level success. The council is determined to continue to offer these services. To do that, Southwark Council is proposing to increase its general fund contribution to education services by £1.3m.

Also set out in the report are £18.7m of savings, a combination of efficiency savings (£11.5m), additional income from fees and charges (£6.8m) and also savings which will impact on services (£0.4m).

Yesterday (19 December) The Rt Hon Sajid Javed MP, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, has presented the provisional Local Government Settlement to parliament. It did not contain the additional funding for local government services that councils had called for, but did raise the limit on council tax increases from 1.99% to 2.99% in addition to the Adult Social Care precept.

Cllr Fiona Colley, Cabinet Member for Finance, Modernisation and Performance said: “Southwark faces enormous funding cuts with a loss of £12m of government funding and specific grants. These funding cuts come at a time of continuing demands and pressures on our services, particularly social care, children’s services, education, homelessness and welfare support.

“Alongside other growing costs such as pay, inflation and IT, as well as having to cope with £12m of cuts, we also need to fund £38.7m of additional spending commitments.

“The good news for Southwark is that our continuing growth in homes and in our local economy is providing us with strong growth in income. We are currently estimating an additional £16.4m of resources available thanks to this growth and the success of our Exchequer Services team in collecting more income that we had previously anticipated. However, despite this additional income and the savings proposed, a budget gap of £5.6m remains.

“It is deeply disappointing that the government has not accepted our calls for more funding for vital services like children’s social care. I have already taken the opportunity to raise the lack of funding for vulnerable children with the Secretary of State and we will continue to press for fair funding for local services. We will continue to lobby the government for more funding, however faced with a £5.6m budget deficit we will also have to consider the possibility of further service reductions and increases in council tax.”

 

Note

A 2.99% council tax increase is new the maximum permitted by government without a referendum. In Southwark this would raise £2.775m of additional income towards the current £5.6m budget gap.

LGA position on the local government finance settlement:

https://www.local.gov.uk/local-government-finance-settlement-2018

Page last updated: 20 December 2017