In that time the Council has spent millions on supporting care homes, providing PPE, giving out millions to keep businesses going, making emergency transport changes to aid social distancing and delivering over 20,000 food packages to vulnerable people.
While this work has been essential, extra spending combined with a huge fall in income from parking, business rates and council tax, means the Council faces a significant budget shortfall.
The government have so far have covered around 40 per cent of the £47million spent by the Council during the public health crisis. The Council’s most cautious estimates are that Lambeth could face a £27m budget shortfall – potentially raising as high as £50m – as the country faces a recession and further uncertainty in the short and medium term.
That accounts for more than is cumulatively spent on rubbish collection, parks, libraries, leisure centres, roads, children’s centres and public health.
Lambeth’s prudent financial management means that it is not currently considering taking drastic action to reduce spending, or issuing a section 114 notice (which imposes financial controls), as some local authorities have had to consider.
However, despite this, the unprecedented financial gap would result in significant financial pressures on the delivery of council services if no further government funding is forthcoming.
Word from cabinet
Cllr Maria Kay, Lambeth’s Cabinet Member for Finance and Performance, said: “After a decade and counting of austerity and year-on-year cuts, as a council we have sought as best we can to do what is needed during the pandemic and will continue do so in the future by supporting our communities through a recovery that works for everyone.
“It would be a betrayal for the government to renege on their promise of financial support, forcing councils such as Lambeth to face the prospect of cuts to services after already suffering from a generation of austerity. It is these very local services that have helped sustain Lambeth residents through the last three months and counting of this public health crisis, services delivered by the key workers on the frontline who have been rightly praised throughout the country since the outbreak.
“This is a period of unparalleled uncertainty for all our residents. Lambeth has been doing everything it can during this period of unprecedented crisis and we will continue to do everything we can for our residents, businesses and VCS in supporting them through the recovery period that will follow.”
To aid this recovery, the Council’s Capital Investment Programme sets out an ambitious agenda of investment in jobs, homes, public infrastructure and tackling climate change. It will support ambitious economic plans for affordable workspace, good jobs and culture and leisure facilities in every part of the borough and will see record investment in making our area greener and in digital infrastructure to address the gap in digital connectivity that we’ve seen over the next few months.
Cllr Kay added: “We’re able to invest the money set aside for our Capital Investment Programme to improve facilities and services because of prudent use of the council’s resources and assets and good financial management over the last few years despite government cuts.
“But that investment, and our ability to support our residents as we have over the last few months, could be put at risk if the government doesn’t keep its promises to fund local authorities for the work we’ve done to fight Covid-19.”
For more information visit moderngov.lambeth.gov.uk