Community service suffers as Lewisham cuts budget by £9m

Pic: moneycortex

Lewisham Council announced a £9 million cut in its budget, which is £1 million more than previously discussed during talks in February.

The new budget, which seeks to “protect key services and support the vulnerable”, includes a £600k cut to culture and community service, £270k reduction to local assembly funding and a £100k cut to the small and faith fund which will put an end to the scheme.

The council will also be charging for garden waste and events held in parks.

The government is enforcing drastic budget cuts following a £17.4m overspend reported in July 2018. The council has until 2021 to come up with £30 million worth of budget cuts; it is still £10m short.

Lewisham Council will also be using the 5% increase in council tax announced at the beginning of February, a £5m government grant and £2.5m obtained from the council’s reserves to cover the deficit.

The council claims the government’s measures favour councils with “sparse” populations and neglects Lewisham’s current housing crisis, along with its current state of deprivation.

The Mayor of Lewisham, Damien Egan, said: “Even though Lewisham is one of the more deprived parts of the country, the government has continued to cut the money we spend on our services.

“The decisions we have to make are becoming harder and harder as we bear the worst of central government austerity.”

Councillor Amanda de Ryk, the cabinet member for finance, said: “With a decade of government funding cuts, a growing population and more demand on services, councils are already at breaking point. New ‘unfair’ funding proposals make us more determined to fight to maintain Lewisham’s public services.”

The borough of Lewisham is the 48th most deprived local authority in England.

The Mayor warned against further measures: “We should be under no illusions. Next year, more difficult decisions will have to be made.”

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