Lewisham’s budget challenge
The financial challenge
In real terms, ten years ago our budget was £400 million, instead of the £243 million it is today. Despite careful financial management we will have to make cuts of over £40 million over the next three years, plus an additional £10 million to respond to growth and an increase in demand for our services. This includes £28 million in 2021/22.
This is a challenge shared by councils everywhere. Across the country, local government is tackling a £4 billion funding gap next year to keep services running at today’s levels.
We don’t want to make more cuts but we are legally required to set a balanced budget, so we have no other choice. Over the next three years, the majority of cuts will be delivered by continuing to transform the way Council services work, including improved joint working with public service partners and reviews into how some services operate.
Despite these incredibly challenging circumstances, we remain ambitious for Lewisham. Our budget for the year ahead sets out our priorities around tackling inequalities, particularly for our Black, Asian and minority residents.
We are committed to building more Council homes; supporting local, independent and Black owned businesses; tackling the climate emergency and ensuring that our most vulnerable residents receive the care and support that they need.
We know that in the coming months, many residents will turn to us for more support. We will continue to prioritise the frontline services that make a big difference to people’s lives, from health and social care, to our parks and green spaces and building new council homes. These values will drive the work of the Council, even in these tough times.
This year we need to increase your Council Tax by 4.99%. For most people that means about £1.66 per week.
The Government’s funding for councils assumes we will increase Council Tax. This isn’t a decision we take lightly, and despite this increase, Government cuts mean that we will still be faced with a much reduced budget. Without residents’ contributions we simply won’t have the money to provide the public services our borough needs.
We know that some people, particularly those whose jobs have been affected by the pandemic, may struggle to pay Council Tax, so we are investing in ways to support those who need it. If you’re worried about paying your Council Tax or rent, find out more about our Council Tax Reduction Scheme and our Discretionary Hardship Fund, or call 020 8314 0000.
If you need support as a result of the pandemic – for example if you’re struggling to buy food, are worried about your mental health, or want to find out about financial support if you’ve been told to isolate there are resourced available. Find resources online on the support available during the pandemic, or call 020 8314 0000.
Watch our animation below to find out more.