Today’s Daily Mail criticises a BBC series on how the cuts to Council budgets may affect people, Tory MP Philip Hollobone said:
‘If the BBC are implying that councils are going to cut so much that they’re not going to be able to collect the bins or perform other vital services, then I think that’s being rather alarmist.’
Except this isn’t alarmism. The Council featured in the series, Preston, lost 2% of its funding this year, will lose a further 8.9% of its funding next year, with another 8.9% the year after. Not in real terms, but in cash terms. With an ageing population, and additional demand on services, this will mean huge cuts to non-essential services such as bin collection.
Phillip Hollobone ought to know better as he is also a Councillor on Kettering Borough Council (claiming £4780 in allowances).
Damien, Mike and Stella have all signed this open letter to the government asking them to reconsider the huge cuts made to the budgets of London Councils.
Following the Local Government Finance Settlement it’s clear London has suffered a raw deal, with its councils facing average cuts of 11.25 per cent. The average for the rest of England is 9.93 per cent.
“So much for Conservative Mayor Boris Johnson’s claim to have mounted a ‘Stalingrad like defence’ of funding for London.
“We must be clear – the size and the speed of these cuts are a choice the Conservative-led government is making. Councils in London are being forced into making the heaviest cuts in the next year because of the decisions taken by George Osborne and Eric Pickles, damaging frontline services and putting jobs and the recovery at risk.
“Our first responsibility is to protect the communities we serve, pressing the government to abandon its course and minimising the pain of the government’s cuts for residents. However the scale of the cuts in funding for councils is so big that in many cases this will not be enough to protect many vital services.
“There is little doubt that local government cuts of this size, imposed this quickly and frontloaded in the first year will hit many of the important frontline services families and communities rely on. Roads already damaged last winter could go unrepaired this year too. Potholes could go unfixed, pavements unswept. Streetlights will be turned off. Youth clubs will close. Libraries will shut down. As more people than ever need help with social care, fewer will find their local council able to help.
“Whether from local government, Parliament, City Hall, the trade unions or local Labour parties, London Labour’s approach will be based on uniting everyone in London opposed to the way the government has handed these cuts to councils and focusing our campaign where it deserves to be focused – on the government.
“We urge the government to carefully reconsider the serious impact of policies on the quality of life of millions of Londoners, rethink the settlement and give the capital a fair deal.”
Ken Livingstone, Labour’s candidate for Mayor of London
Harriet Harman MP, Deputy Leader of the Labour Party
Tessa Jowell MP, Shadow Minister for the Olympics
Jules Pipe, Mayor of Hackney
Linda Perks, UNISON Regional Secretary
Steve Hart, UNITE Regional Secretary London and Eastern
Paul Hayes, GMB London regional secretary
Richard Ascough, GMB Southern regional secretary
Alan Tate, CWU London Regional Political Secretary
Len Duvall AM, Leader of London Assembly Labour Group
Claude Moraes MEP
Nicky Gavron AM
Val Shawcross AM
Murad Qureshi AM
John Biggs AM
Joanne McCartney AM
Navin Shah AM
Jennette Arnold AM
Diane Abbott MP
Heidi Alexander MP
Rushanara Ali MP
Karen Buck MP
Lyn Brown MP
Jon Cruddas MP
John Cryer MP
Jim Dowd MP
Clive Efford MP
Mike Gapes MP
Meg Hillier MP
Jim Fitzpatrick MP
Margaret Hodge MP
David Lammy MP
Siobhan McDonagh MP
Andy Love MP
Stephen Pound MP
Teresa Pearce MP
Nick Raynsford MP
Joan Ruddock MP
Virendra Sharma MP
Andy Slaughter MP
Stephen Timms MP
Gareth Thomas MP
Emily Thornberry MP
Malcolm Wicks MP
Cllr Liam Smith, Leader of Barking and Dagenham Council
Cllr Ann John, Leader of Brent Council
Cllr Nasim Ali, Leader of Camden Council
Cllr Julian Bell, Leader of Ealing Council
Cllr Doug Taylor, Leader of Enfield Council
Cllr Chris Roberts, Leader of Greenwich Council
Cllr Jagdish Sharma, Leader of Hounslow Council
Cllr Claire Kober, Leader of Haringey Council
Cllr Bill Stephenson, Leader of Harrow Council
Cllr Catherine West, Leader of Islington Council
Cllr Steve Reed, Leader of Lambeth Council
Steve Bullock, Mayor of Lewisham
Cllr Stephen Alambritis, Leader of Merton Council
Robin Wales, Mayor of Newham
Cllr Peter John, Leader of Southwark Council
Cllr Chris Robbins, Leader of Waltham Forest Council
Mayor Steve Bullock’s budget speech in full Comments Off
We predicted a charged Council meeting, but the Monday’s scenes were far worse than anyone truly expected. I will write about this in more detail, tomorrow.
In the meantime, the South London Press has published Steve’s speech to the Council meeting in full, which is to be welcomed. There was a time when local papers would routinely publish the speeches of Councillors at Council meetings in full to allow local people to hold their elected officials to account. I shalln’t speculate on what has deteriorated quicker, the calibre of our public speaking or local newspapers…
Anyhow, from the SLP, the full speech:
LEWISHAM is unusual in that it has for the last nine years taken its budget in two parts – each November a savings package has been agreed in order to achieve a full year effect and in February the rest of the budget is dealt with.
That is exactly the process we are following this year.
The report in front of us tonight has been worked on since the summer and 70 per cent of the savings are being achieved by increasing efficiency.
60 per cent of the savings in this package are to “back office” functions.
The leader of the opposition, to judge by his press comments, has had difficulty understanding this process.
He asked why there were no proposals to reduce the number of council departments.
Leaving aside the fact that he seemed to think we have seven when in fact we have five, and have had all the time he has been a councillor, when the full budget report is brought forward in the new year it will include proposals to reduce the number of directorates as well as other management costs.
This current package amounts to £13.7m in the year 2011/12 with a further impact of just over £5m in subsequent years.
If a Labour Government had been returned in May that might well have have taken us close to a position where the council’s budget could be balanced, and it would have done so with relatively little impact on the service areas we on this side consider to be a priority – Adult Social Care and Young People, particularly those who are the most vulnerable.
But in fact the Liberal Conservative coalition has decided to go much further and impose a cut on the local services of this country of more than 28 per cent and they intend to do so in a particularly brutal way by forcing councils to make half of that saving in a single year.
No amount of preparation, no amount of good management can prepare for the cuts on that scale.
Lewisham along with every other council will get its detailed figures from the Secretary of State, Eric Pickles, in a few days time.
A Secretary of State who is in denial about the devastation he is wreaking.
Councillors who tell the truth about his cuts are called liars.
Now even his own Tory councillors are turning on him. Dame Margaret Eaton, the Tory chair of the Local Government Association said last week, “Grants that have yet to be finalised must be set at levels that help councils, rather than making a difficult situation even worse.”
Lewisham is a deprived borough, and astonishingly the Liberal Conservative coalition has decided to cut deprived parts of the country more than affluent parts.
Some cities will lose up to 38 per cent of their funding once the cuts take hold.
London Boroughs like Lewisham, Hackney and Haringey will not be far behind.
Incredibly some affluent areas, including the Prime Minister’s own Oxfordshire heartland, will see their budgets rise by more than a third.
The Liberal Democrat leader in Liverpool, Warren Bradley, has talked about city economies being set back 10 or 20 years – he is right but are his colleagues in Westminster listening?
The proposals in front of us tonight will have a real impact – jobs will be lost – and it is my intention to do everything possible to avoid compulsory redundancies.
There will be impacts on services as a result of our decisions but these are not the worst of what the government want to impose on Lewisham.
There is still time for the Liberal Democrats to come to their senses and force George Osborne to think again.
The message that needs to go out tonight should be aimed at Liberal and Conservative ministers – stop your onslaught on local services now, before it is too late.
From the Council:
Lewisham Council has organised more public meetings to consult on savings that need to be made as a result of expected reductions in Government funding.
The Council is facing reductions of up to £60million over the next three years and a whole range of proposals have been put to the Mayor of Lewisham. Lewisham Council has embarked on an extensive consultation with residents and has now organised some additional public meetings to enable more people to have their say.
All the feedback received from the various surveys and consultations will be reported to the Mayor and Cabinet at their meeting on 17 November. At this meeting, the Mayor is expected to make decisions on which savings to incorporate into his draft budget for 2011/12. The draft budget is scheduled to be discussed and voted on at a meeting of the full Council on 1 March 2011.
The online questionnaire can be completed at www.lewisham.gov.uk/ourlewishamoursay
The roadshow will be stopping on:
* Friday 1 October – Lewisham Town Centre
* Monday 4 October – Lewisham Town Centre
Local assemblies are taking place on:
* Monday 11 October – Lewisham Central