10 November 2007

Mayor's Budget Summit

I went to an all-party summit hosted by the Mayor on the budget today. This year's budget will be dominated by the financial pressures within Adult Social Care.

The summit started with a presentation from the Director of Resources explaining how the Comprehensive Spending Review might impact on Lewisham - generally not likely to be good. She spent much time explaining that Lewisham will be 'on the floor' - by which she meant that the central government funding will be tight for Lewisham - perhaps inflation plus a bit. So the chances of more for recyling & waste services in Lewisham seem slim.

The flexibility that Whitehall is planning to offer local councils through removing some of the ringfencing from £5bn worth of grants appears to be rapidly evaporating and further Lewisham will be amongst the 30-odd councils not covered by these grants!

So what might happen...

The Mayor set out his funding priorities as being:

* Adult Social Care
* Tackling Crime & Anti-social behaviour
* Services for Young People
* Enhancing sustainability

He also set out a range of plans by which he is considering cuts/budget savings/efficiencies he proposes to permit the funding of the above priority areas...that is he proposes a wholescale transfer of funding from existing services to the above areas. The cuts packages will need to examined in detail to see whether these are palatable. Needless to say as it covers £10M worth of proposals it is likely to be challenging and there will always be scope for opposition to these. Nevertheless the priorities set out by the Mayor are also important. No doubt the papers will be full of the impact on these services in due course.

He also alluded to the self-imposed cap on Council Tax of 2.5% - perhaps this is up for discussion too?

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