By Grainne Cuffe, Local Democracy Reporter
The cost of compensating victims of historic child sex abuse in Lambeth looks likely to cost up to £84million.
Lambeth council has budgeted the final tranche of the £100 million it approved as part of its redress scheme to go to survivors of abuse under its care.
The total already paid out is more than £46million – of that, £6.2million has gone to claimants’ solicitors, £4million in medical costs and other expenses, and £3.2m on the council’s legal costs.
Lambeth’s cabinet on July 20 approved a five-year programme of £715 million on major projects, including £15 million in 2020/21 to compensate historical child abuse victims in Lambeth children’s homes, the inquiry of which is ongoing.
From the 1930s to 1990s, children suffered “prolonged sexual, racial, and physical abuse” at the hands of paedophiles.
A council spokesman said: “The most recent data shows there have been 1,602 applications submitted into the redress scheme, and a total of £46.4 million has been paid in redress.
“The council is borrowing up to £100 million to fund the scheme.
“Updates and improvements have been made to the redress scheme since it opened, and we will continue to listen to survivors.”
Lambeth’s capital investment programme (CIP) – its planned spending on buildings and other big projects – includes £10 million investment for parks and more than £34 million to tackle the climate emergency.
But town hall budget chiefs say government grants will currently cover only half the cost of the borough’s Covid-19 spending.
Addressing cabinet, the member for finance and performance, Cllr Maria Kay, said “it will come as no surprise” that since lockdown began “there’s been significant financial impact” on the council.
She said: “Essential as this work has been there’s no getting away from the fact that extra spending, combined with a huge fall in income from parking, business rates, and council tax, means we face a huge budget shortfall.”
She said so far Government funding covers less than half of the financial impact, while the extra £500 million announced for councils amounts to £3.5 million for Lambeth.
“Even our most cautious estimates are that Lambeth could face a funding crisis of £27 million, raising as high as £50 million as the country faces recession and huge uncertainty.
“That’s more than we spend on rubbish collection, parks, libraries, leisure centres, roads, children’s centres and public health altogether.
“It would be a betrayal for the Government to renege on their promise of financial support, forcing councils such as Lambeth to face the prospect of cuts to services after already suffering from a generation of Tory austerity,” Cllr Kay said.
The council has sufficient reserves to cover the £27 million, but she said it was “not out of the woods yet”.
Pictured top: Relatives throw roses into the sea at Brighton in memory of the victims of sexual abuse in Lambeth children’s homes
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