Southwark’s priorities for the Spending Review 2021

26 October 2021

At Southwark Council, we have a bold and ambitious agenda that will drive growth, create jobs, build new homes, and help us to reach carbon neutrality by 2030. We have a clear plan for delivery, but we cannot achieve it without strong support and investment from central government.           

Our recommendations for the Spending Review 2021 reflect the top priorities for our borough: tackling the climate emergency and the housing crisis, stimulating a strong economic recovery from the pandemic and supporting our children and young people to recover from the unprecedented and devastating disruption to their education. This must all be backed by long-term, sustainable funding for councils to enable them to deliver the vital local services that the public needs.

Climate emergency

  • Significantly increased funding for schemes that allow local authorities and residents to retrofit their homes. We estimate £2.6 billion of capital expenditure is required to reach our 2030 goals on housing, across domestic insulation, expanding heat networks and moving away from gas boilers.           
  • A detailed plan on how the government intends to ban the sale of polluting vehicles, with a refocused target of 2025 rather than 2030. The government also needs to provide financial support to citizens looking to switch to electric cars, public transport or active travel.
  • Tougher regulations on commercial waste, forcing businesses to pay for the waste they create that affects wildlife and other biodiversity. Funding would also be required to ensure that businesses, particularly SMEs, were not significantly impacted by the regulations.

Education recovery and young people

  • A bold and comprehensive education recovery package that is closer to the £15 billion recommended by the government’s Education Recovery Commissioner - Sir Kevan Collins - than the £3.1 billion provided to date. 
  • Further investment in local tutoring so that schools, not private companies, can decide how best to deliver for their pupils. 
  • A fairer funding formula for schools that will allow our schools to stay open despite falling pupil admission numbers so that smaller class sizes can help our young people catch up.
  • Provide long-term central government funding for mental health and wellbeing hubs, like The Nest in Southwark, to provide early support for young people’s mental health when their problems first emerge.


  • An end to the Right to Buy. Since the policy was introduced in 1980, we have lost around 17,000 properties under the Right to Buy.
  • Increased funding for retrofitting social housing to comply with fire and building safety legislation. It is important that we carry out these retrofitting works, but this expenditure will reduce the amount of funding that can be leveraged to build new social housing stock.
  • A long-term extension of funding for Housing First programmes to tackle rough sleeping.
  • An end to the unfair funding burden faced by councils supporting households with No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF), with no compensation from central government.
  • Maintain the emergency welfare measures, including the uplift to Universal Credit, and permanently restore ring-fenced central government funding for local welfare assistance schemes operated by local authorities.
  • The government should increase the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates to the median of rents, and do more to support renters in both the private and social housing sectors.           
  • The chancellor must work with ministerial colleagues to bring forward the Renters’ Reform Bill as soon as possible, including an end to Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions.

Economic recovery and jobs

  • Balance the business rates burden to support the revival of high streets. Work with local government and businesses to explore the introduction of a hybrid Online Sales Tax while reducing the burden of business rates on physical commercial premises in order to level the playing field.      
  • Support central London’s culture, leisure and visitor economy to thrive through targeted business support for businesses in the cultural and creative sector and the wider visitor economy, until international tourism recovers.           
  • Reintroduce the VAT Retail Export Scheme and develop a digital claims system to incentivise tourist spending across the whole UK.      
  • Support investment in central London’s infrastructure to drive sustainable growth. Where government is unable to invest, it should devolve powers to London government to enable the delivery of these schemes.
  • Support the transition to net zero by implementing in full the recommendations of the Green Jobs Taskforce.
  • Deliver high quality employment and skills support locally by embracing the principle of subsidiarity, with employment and skills support being devolved to London government wherever possible.         
  • Ensure Restart providers work closely with local authority partners, and any successor to the scheme should devolved to local areas.
  • The Adult Education Budget and funding for wider skills provision should be protected in real terms in the ‘Skills for Jobs: A New Further Education Funding and Accountability System’ review.         
  • Ensure a fair distribution of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF). As a minimum, London should receive as much funding in UKSPF as it received from the EU structural funds that it will replace.
  • Reform the apprenticeship levy to allow employers greater flexibility in the use of their levy funds, and consider extending the availability of current employer incentives.

Funding for councils

  • A minimum funding guarantee that rolls over current budgets into 2022/23 with full additions for London inflation and the increased demand for services. 
  • Councils must have financial certainty and stability including clarity over the timing of any changes to the local government finance system.
  • Extend the Tax Income Guarantee Scheme and the Sales Fees and Charges Compensation Scheme in 2021/22. Other income losses from commercial income and rental income should also be reimbursed.
  • Full funding for the increase in demand for services. This should cover both cost pressures that were present pre-pandemic (social care, homelessness, special educational needs) and new emerging pressures following COVID-19, such as public health and supporting the local economy.

Page last updated: 26 October 2021

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