BY ZOE JEWELL AND KAYE WIGGINS
Lambeth’s Labour council is preparing to cut millions of pounds from support for elderly and disabled people and vulnerable children at a Town Hall meeting tonight.
Under what the council describes as “one of the most challenging budgets in its history”, it has been forced to cut £25million from its spending in 2014/15.
In a move criticised by campaigners as “bad for older people and bad for younger people” the council has drawn up plans to cut more than £4m, or four per cent, from its budgets for helping older, disabled and vulnerable adults over the next year.
Councillors are expected to pass the plans at a full meeting of the council tonight, at Lambeth Town Hall, Brixton, from 7pm. The Brixton Blog will be reporting live as the meeting unfolds.
Almost £1m of these savings come from cutting the use of residential care, which the council hopes to achieve by encouraging residents to stay at home and live independently for longer.
Chris Blake, from the campaign group Lambeth Save Our Services, said: “This budget is bad for older people who need residential care. It’s bad for younger people who depend on children’s services.
“But where it is truly catastrophic is housing. Brixton currently has a desperate shortage of housing that people on ordinary incomes can afford. The council is currently selling social housing owned by the short-life housing co-ops and cutting the social housing budget. This will make a bad situation much worse.”
A further £3.9m, or 6%, will be cut from services for children and young people. It is not clear how many jobs will be axed. This includes a review of all staff working with vulnerable children, which aims to save £1.2m.
The measures are part of a package that aims to cut £25m from the budget in 2014/15.
Cllr Lib Peck, Lambeth council leader, said: “The scale of the Government cuts is so great that it is inevitable that every area of the council will be affected. But we are determined to protect our children and most vulnerable residents and we have worked hard to limit the impact compared to other areas.
“Our elderly and vulnerable people have told us they want to stay in their own homes for as long as possible and by working more closely with health and social care we will be able to do this and provide older, disabled and vulnerable people greater choice.”
She added: “We are focusing our efforts on prevention because we know that early intervention can make a real difference to families and reduce the number of children entering care.”
Lambeth has also penciled in much bigger cuts for the following two years. Under initial proposals outlined in its budget papers, children’s services budgets will fall by 22% between now and 2016/17 and support for older and disabled people will fall by 15% in the same period.
Follow @BrixtonBlog for live updates from tonight’s meeting, and pick up a copy of the March edition of the Brixton Bugle newspaper for more analysis and reaction.
COMMENT: Lambeth’s budget cuts will hit hard
Read the council agenda here.