Lambeth agrees balanced budget – and pledges to protect front-line services

1 March 2024

Written by: Lambeth Council

Council statements and updates - News and announcements - Post Type - Spending and transparency

Lambeth Council has agreed a balanced budget for the coming year – and committed to “doing all it can to protect front line services”, in the face of a continuing squeeze in funding from government.

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Lambeth agrees balanced budget – and pledges to protect front-line services

At a Full Council meeting on Wednesday (28 February), the borough’s councillors approved a budget that laid out the council’s blueprint for dealing with the challenges of “stubbornly high inflation and increasing demands on essential services”, alongside a government funding deal that fell “far short of what Lambeth and councils up and down the country have been calling for”.

The Revenue and Capital Budget 2024/25 to 2028/29 stated that the council would “continue to take every opportunity to support vulnerable people in our communities and deliver on our residents’ priorities”.

But it added: “We must also be honest in our ability to do so in the face of reduced grant funding, rising inflation, and ever-increasing demand on our essential day-to-day services.”

Senior councillors warned in December that this year’s national financial settlement  would only add to the financial restraints imposed on the borough during more than a decade of austerity. Councillor David Amos, Cabinet Member for Finance and Cost of Living, said last month that Lambeth had been facing a funding gap of £38 million over the next four years – but would now need to find an additional £8.7m of savings “unless the government wakes up to the reality we are all facing”.

Word from the Cabinet

Cllr Amos told the Full Council meeting: “We know that our communities face enormous challenges in the years ahead as we deal with the cost-of-living crisis, which has been difficult for people in every corner of Lambeth. We know that local government, right across the country, faces difficult decisions as a result of a funding crisis fourteen years in the making.

“After over a decade of austerity, government forces councils to pass the burden of funding essential local services onto residents by raising Council Tax – rather than provide sustainable, long-term funding.

“We have been on our residents’ side throughout the cost of living crisis. We’ll keep working hard to balance the books and we’ll keep fighting for the fair funding Lambeth needs.”

Cllr Amos said the council’s work to protect key priorities and support residents, despite the funding restrictions, included:

  • over 9,000 of Lambeth’s most financially precarious residents receiving targeted pay-outs
  • an additional £5.5m brought into the borough through unclaimed benefits and income for residents and schools
  • The Council Tax Support Scheme, reducing the Council Tax bills of over 16,000 households to zero.
  • investing in services to reduce violence against women and girls
  • continuing the council’s effective work to prevent homelessness.

Lambeth Council leader, Cllr Claire Holland, said the cumulative effect of more than a decade of funding restrictions “makes this the most challenging budget I can remember”.

She added: “I have spoken to so many councils who face being overwhelmed by pressures, from the demand for temporary accommodation to the increasing number of children requiring care. Make no mistake – local government is at breaking point.

“It is a source of pride to me that despite these national challenges, Lambeth Council has a robust financial position thanks to years of strong management and progressive choices by this administration.”