£30m budget cuts approved by Lambeth council

By Kaye Wiggins 

Lambeth Council last night passed a 2012/13 budget that will cut £29.2m from its spending.

The figures were approved by 38 of the 53 councillors present for the vote, at a town hall meeting that was greeted by a vocal group of protesters outside the building.

Under the new budget, Lambeth will cut £4.9m from its children’s services fund, including a £1.4m saving by reducing staff at children’s centres in the borough.

The council will also cut £2.9m from its budget for adult and community services, including a £240,000 cut to its floating support services for vulnerable adults and a £100,000 cut to its parks services fund.

It will save a further £350,000 by “transforming” daycare centres for elderly and vulnerable adults as part of its “co-operative council” agenda.

Lambeth will freeze council tax this year, having accepted a £2.5m government grant that allows it to do so.

The budget papers show the council expects to have a £6m shortfall in its plan to reduce spending by 2014/15, but the council says it has “transformation and efficiency programmes” in place to prevent this.

Budget meeting

At last night’s meeting Cllr Paul McGlone, the cabinet member for finance and resources, said two thirds of the money cut from the council’s budget had been cut by rationing back-office functions and a third involved reducing services.

The Liberal Democrat councillor Peter Truesdale said he understood that it was difficult to deliver a budget under tight funding constraints. However, he said, “that doesn’t let you off the responsibility managing assets more effectively.” He said the council could have saved money by selling its empty or underused properties.

Conservative councillor Julia Memery said the council should have saved more money by reducing its use of highly-paid agency staff and sharing services with other councils. She also said the council had “pimped out green spaces for commercial events”.

She said, however, that her main frustration with the budget was that some of the measures had not been taken sooner, which she said would have saved the taxpayer money.

Cllr Steve Reed, the leader of the council, said in his closing speech that Lambeth had received a bigger cash reduction than any other London borough, losing £100 a year for every resident. “We can say to the people of Lambeth that despite this most difficult of times they have a council that is on their side,” he said.

You can follow the events as they happened on our live blog from the night.