Purchasing PPE, protecting care homes and delivering tens of thousands of food packages as part of the council’s Covid-19 response has cost the council over £52 million so far this year.
The Government has partly covered the cost with additional funding but has so far not met the full costs as was pledged earlier this year. As a result, the council is considering savings of over £13 million next year – but focused on making services more efficient and raising additional income rather than cutting services residents rely on. The proposals will be discussed at a meeting of Lambeth Council’s Cabinet later this month.
Word from the Cabinet
Cllr Andrew Wilson, Lambeth’s Cabinet Member for Finance and Performance, said: “I’m incredibly proud of the way the council has worked with the community in responding to pandemic, swiftly putting in a huge range of measures to protect the vulnerable, support businesses and protect our residents.
“We were told to do whatever was necessary at the start of this crisis to safeguard our community, and that local authorities would be reimbursed by the government for this work. Sadly that pledge has not been fully met, which added to the impacts of a decade of austerity measures leaves us needing to find new savings.
“The level of savings we are outlining today are our best case scenario. If the need to put further measures in place to deal with the virus arises then our services could face significant financial pressure in the future.
“Services for vulnerable people in Lambeth shouldn’t have to face reductions next year because of the work to protect vulnerable people from Covid-19 this year. The government must recognise that local services have been essential to the fight against the virus and fund them accordingly.”
Lambeth is proposing to deal with the current deficit through a mixture of income generation, savings and use of reserves.
Cllr Wilson said: “We still face big uncertainties as the full social and economic impact of Covid-19 remains unclear, as is our funding position from government. In addition there is further uncertainly regarding Brexit as we don’t currently have a trade deal with the EU – just weeks ahead of the deadline for it.
“If a deal isn’t agreed by the end of this month there will be a whole host of extra pressures on not only our budget, but the entire country. Local councils need clarity now, on funding, on Brexit and on the fight against Covid-19 so that we can continue to deliver the high-quality services our residents rely on.