Council tax to be frozen amid £25m cuts

By Kaye Wiggins

Lambeth’s ruling Labour councillors have approved plans for £25.4m in cuts over the next 12 months, and for another year’s freeze in council tax.

At a cabinet meeting tonight, councillors agreed to a series of measures including cuts in social care staffing and reduced grants to local arts groups.

The budget also includes cuts in funding for police community support officers (PCSOs), as reported by the Brixton Bugle last month.

Cllr Pete Robbins

However, it keeps council tax frozen for the sixth year running. Cllr Pete Robbins (left), cabinet member for housing and regeneration, said this was a sign that councillors recognised that many residents faced a “cost of living crisis”.

During the meeting Cllr Paul McGlone, cabinet member for finance, said council budgets would get even tougher in future.

“We’re saving £25m this year but that still leaves three times as much to find in the next two years,” he said. “We are getting into uncharted waters”.

The £25m cuts come from a total budget of around £300m.

Cllr McGlone said the council would aim to protect services residents valued most, such as clean streets, leisure centres and parks, as well as caring for the most vulnerable residents.

The opposition Liberal Democrat councillor Christine Barratt said she wanted more details of a proposal to save £1m from the council’s residential care budget. She also said her party was working on an alternative budget.

During the meeting, councillors also approved a 4.9% rent rise for social tenants.

Cllr Robbins said the 4.9% rise was the “lowest we can have it”.

Councillors also paid tribute to Lambeth mayor Mark Bennett, who died of a suspected heart attack last week aged 43. A minute’s silence was held as a mark of respect.

The budget proposals will now be put to a full council meeting on 26 February.