By Grainne Cuffe, Local Democracy Reporter
Many workers at Southwark council could lose their jobs, according to its draft budget proposals.
The council has plans to cut the equivalent of 58 full-time jobs across several departments as part of plans to save £13.4 million next year (2021-22).
The plans include cutting current positions and pulling vacant posts.
Children’s and adult’s services make up the majority of cuts (£8.5 million) – a quarter of that is expected to impact the delivery of services.
The services also make up a large portion of the job losses, with 19 at risk because of a proposal to close a day centre.
Fred Francis Day Centre, which is run by Southwark council and offers a variety of activities for older adults with dementia or mental health problems, shut down in the wake of the pandemic.
The council is now proposing to permanently close the centre.
According to the report on the plans: “There remains other day care provision within the borough.
“These are difficult decisions to make but are consistent with the council’s vision of a fairer future for all.”
An increase in council tax of 4.99 per cent – 1.99 per cent general increase, and 3 per cent for adult social care – is also planned.
The council is proposing to cut the Southwark Scholars programme, which covers the full cost of higher education tuition fees for financially disadvantaged young people, by £300,000.
In adult social care the council plans to save money by choosing permanent contracts in adult social care over temporary contracts, reviewing care packages, and increasing elderly people’s independence with timely provision of aids and home adaptions.
There is a general focus on making services more efficient, while money is expected to be saved through a reduction in demand in some services and increased grant funding from Government.
The council is planning to save £780,000 by cutting 15 social work and management posts in children’s social care.
It is also planning to suspend the roll out of the free theatre tickets programme for primary school children it announced in 2019.
In a foreword to the report on the plans, the cabinet member for finance and resources, Councillor Rebecca Lury, spoke about several pressures on the council’s budget.
They include the Covid-19 pandemic generally, the delay or cancellation of planned cuts, loss of income through fees and charges, and reduction in council tax collection and business rates.
“In addition to the major impact that the Covid-19 crisis is having on the councils’ income and spending, we continue to face significant demands and pressures on our services, in particular social care, homelessness, welfare support, leisure and high needs services, where the DSG deficit is forecast to increase to £21.7 million by the end of this financial year,” she said.
When the proposals were published last month the council was facing a funding gap next year of more than £9.5 million.
However, the provisional Local Government Finance Settlement was published on December 17, after the draft budget was set out, and will be figured into the plans this month.
Cllr Lury said: “Notwithstanding the challenges, this administration remains determined to keep our promises, to protect and modernise our services and to continue to focus on the delivery of our council plan, fairer future promises and budget principles to deliver value for money and commit to spending money as if it were from our own pocket.”
The current draft budget proposals are the first version and will be followed by an updated version at January’s cabinet meeting.
The council’s overview and scrutiny committee is set to be updated next week (January 12) on the budget plans by Cllr Lury and the strategic director of finance and governance.
The committee will fully scrutinise the budget plans later this month.
Pictured top: Southwark council’s offices in Tooley Street
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