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Lambeth lays out £46.5m savings plan to meet ‘unprecedented’ budget cuts

Lambeth Borough Council will make £46.5m efficiency savings by 2020 under a new plan to meet the cost of funding reductions.

The council’s financial planning report for 2016-17 to 2019-20, due to go before the council cabinet on 28 November, says: “The council faces the most challenging time for local government and an unprecedented period of reductions in funding with a combination of an estimated 56% reduction from core government funding between 2010 and 2018.”

It adds that the council, which has accepted the four-year funding settlement from the government because it was “the only [offer] on the table”, needs to achieve £55m savings in total.

The £46.5m savings identified so far will involve services and jobs cuts. The council said it expected staff numbers would fall from 4,000 in 2010 to 2,100 by 2020.

It is planning to save £11.84m through staffing efficiencies, introduce a staff integration model in adult social care, and cut staff in the Supporting People team and public health.

The report proposes making savings through a number of service reforms. These include introducing the reablement model to adult social care; introducing banding payment levels for residential and nursing care; redesigning and re-commissioning a single integrated adult health and wellbeing improvement service; and merging different teams in housing services.

Other areas for savings include:

  • Cutting 92 beds from hostel services at a cost of £770,000
  • Decommissioning the public health day programme, saving £280,000, and reviewing other targeted services
  • Geographic grouping of children’s centres and health visiting teams, which will save £970,000 although the report said this strategy may not be possible to achieve if there are further cuts in the direct schools grant
  • Cutting £1.5m of funding to adventure playgrounds and one o’clock clubs

The report also notes that “it is inevitable that citizens will be impacted” by the cuts, with 40% of the planned savings having some sort of equality impact. Groups likely to be particularly affected include low-income, disabled and BAME people and lone-parent families.

Cllr Lib Peck, leader of Lambeth council, said: “Every difficult decision we have to make is framed by our priorities for Lambeth, and our drive to reduce inequality and support our residents who are most in need.

Lambeth is the latest in a series of councils to publish plans for extensive spending cuts because of reductions in funding from central government. Newcastle City Council warned recently that it could face legal challenges because of cuts to its social care services, and Lancashire County Council is under government scrutiny over library cuts.

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