5.1 Tom Brown, Executive Director for Community Services, introduced the report to the Committee, the following key points were raised:
· Responding to the Covid-19 pandemic had created a budget shortfall of £68m of which approximately £30m was due to costs and the remaining circa £38m was a result of lost revenue. While some central government funding was being provided, this would not be enough to meet the entire cost.
· Additionally there would be a CYP budget overspend of slightly less than £10m at the end of this financial year, and some would flow into the next financial year, largely due to the cost of social care placements for children.
· Even without the additional financial pressures brought about by Covid-19, there was expected to be a £40m budget cut over the next 3 years, of which £24m was to be made in the next financial year.
· Officers had taken a themed approach to finding ways of making savings and cuts, with each Executive Director leading on a theme that was not directly related to their business area.
· The current proposals totalled £26.9 million, £15 million of which was for the next financial year 2021/22. The Target overall for 2021/22 was £34 million, so an additional £18.5 million still needed to be found for next year.
5.2 Members of the Committee highlighted that the importance of considering the cumulative effect of savings and cuts was essential both in terms of equalities implications and in HR terms. There were many areas where multiple cut proposals would have effects on some of the same groups of people and a thorough understanding of the overall effect was essential.
5.3 Members of the Committee thanked Council officers for their work and for the clear report and expressed concern and sadness at the extent of the cuts due to reductions in central government funding.
5.4 Members of the Committee thanked Gary Connors for his excellent work at Lewisham Council and wished him well for his new position.
5.5 Councillor Slater, Cabinet Member for the Community Sector, praised the voluntary sector for their work with the Covid-19 Hub response to the pandemic. Over 10,000 “extremely vulnerable” people were supported and over 43,000 calls made. 2000 volunteers signed up through Lewisham Local.
5.6 Councillor Brown and Cllr Rathbone proposed referrals for the Committee to make to the Public Accounts Select Committee. Following discussion with the Committee the referral was agreed and is listed in full below.
1. That the report be noted
2. That the following be referred to the Public Accounts Select Committee:
· That Service Equalities Impact and Human Resources Impact assessments be carried out which consider the proposed cuts on a cumulative basis
· That the likely impact of the proposed cuts on individuals with multiple and complex needs be considered in more detail.
· That the proposal be examined to ensure that they do not contain cuts that would have a detrimental effect on the achievement of other savings.
· For upcoming Budget reports the following information be included in reports: The impact of a proposed cut on the users of a service; The impact of a proposed cut on the staff of a service; The impact of the cut on the service overall; The cumulative impact of the cut on LBL as a whole.