Jobs and services to be cut as Lewisham looks to make further savings

By Grainne Cuffe, Local Democracy Reporter

Services for Lewisham residents will be affected by planned cuts, the council has warned.

Lewisham council says it needs to make £40 million in cuts over the next three years.

This week it published a second round of cuts proposals worth £15.1 million, added to the more than £26 million set out in November.

It brings the total cuts planned for next year alone to £28 million.

The new proposals have less than a month for consultation and scrutiny before final decisions are made in February.

Some cuts in the second round are more clear than others when it comes to job losses – in some instances redundancies will be guaranteed if the proposals are approved, and in others people could lose their jobs if savings are not achieved via other routes.

Services where people will be made redundant if plans are approved include the housing needs service (10 to 15), the youth offending service, environmental services, and business support for education.

Jobs are also at risk in legal, governance, and election services, with plans to bring teams together, and also in library services.

Many of the draft proposals focus on service reviews, restructures, making teams more “efficient”, cheaper contracts and better management of contracts, and a move from agency use to in-house workers.

The latest proposals include a cut of £567,000 in 2022/23 to environmental services as part of a whole service review. This is added to the £330,000 announced last year.

The council acknowledges that the cuts will involve job losses, fewer street cleans and more complaints from residents.

According to the plans, there will only be three mobile teams to cover the whole borough.

But it plans to make £100,000 next year by clamping down on offences such as illegal dumping, littering, dog fouling, and urinating in the street.

The council plans to make £240,000 over the next two years by introducing emissions-based charging for short stay parking.

This will be added to the banded charges for residents and business parking permits based on a vehicle’s CO2 emissions, which have already been introduced in the borough.

Elsewhere in the service the council is planning to make £625,000 in the next two years by clamping down on road safety enforcement.

It says that despite introducing a number of measures to improve road safety, such as banned turns and one way streets, the “vast majority of these are not regularly enforced”.

Lewisham plans to save £250,000 by reviewing its special educational needs transport.

“Although it is intended that the review will seek to identify efficiencies, if these cannot be found, it is possible that some services may need to be reduced or stopped,” according to the council.

The council also plans to cut the adult learning service by nearly £100,000 – staff may lose their jobs. Lewisham says the impact on learners would be “minimal”.

The council stands to benefit financially from the public sector pay freeze for all except those earning below £24,000.

“In light of the announcement, it is intended that a further £1 million cut is taken from (staffing) budgets,” according to the council.

Mayor Egan said: “The proposals include a number of strategic reviews, to help us identify cuts and work more efficiently.

“However, we’re running out of options and will need to make decisions that impact the services we provide.”

Pictured top: Lewisham civic centre

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