Agenda item

Policy and resources strategy 2022-23 - revenue budget

To follow


There were eight questions on the report, the written responses to which were circulated at the meeting.  There were eight supplemental questions.


There were three amendments to this report.


In accordance with council assembly procedure rule 1.14.9, Councillor Rebecca Lury, cabinet member for finance, performance and democracy, moved the report.


In accordance with council assembly procedure rule 1.14.9, Councillor Dan Whitehead responded to the cabinet member’s statement.


Councillor Peter Babudu, seconded by Councillor Leanne Werner, moved Amendment A.


Councillor Victor Chamberlain, seconded by Councillor Maria Linforth-Hall, moved Amendment B.


Councillor Humaira Ali, seconded by Councillor Nick Johnson, moved Amendment C.


Following debate (Councillors Catherine Rose, Jasmine Ali, Jane Salmon, Richard Livingstone, Evelyn Akoto, Graham Neale, William Houngbo, Michael Situ, James Coldwell, Damian O’Brien, Eliza Mann, Eleanor Kerslake, David Noakes, Jack Buck, Hamish McCallum, Gavin Edwards, Stephanie Cryan, Kieron Williams, Nick Dolezal) Councillor Rebecca Lury exercised her right of reply.


Amendment A – Carried


Amendment B – Lost


Amendment C – Lost


At this juncture the clerk explained that the Local Authorities (Standing Orders) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2014, which had come into force on 25 February 2014, required a recorded vote on key budget decisions by local authorities. The regulations required a recorded vote on decisions only.  Therefore in accordance with council assembly procedure rule 1.16(4) (a roll call recorded vote), an announcement was made at the beginning and end of one minute, after which the vote was taken.


The substantive motion was put to the vote, and the votes having been recorded, the Mayor declared the result as follows:


In favour of the substantive motion (36):


Councillors Evelyn Akoto, Jasmine Ali, Peter Babudu, Maggie Browning, Jack Buck, Sunil Chopra, James Coldwell, Stephanie Cryan, Helen Dennis, Nick Dolezal, Gavin Edwards, Tom Flynn, Renata Hamvas, Barrie Hargrove, Peter John, Eleanor Kerslake, Sarah King, Sunny Lambe, Richard Leeming, Richard Livingstone, Rebecca Lury, James McAsh, Darren Merrill, Vicky Mills, Margy Newens, Jason Ochere, Leo Pollak, Catherine Rose, Andy Simmons, Michael Situ, Charlie Smith, Cleo Soanes, Leanne Werner, Kath Whittam, Kieron Williams and Ian Wingfield.


Abstained (13):


Councillors Humaira Ali, Victor Chamberlain, William Houngbo, Nick Johnson, Maria Linforth-Hall, Eliza Mann, Hamish McCallum, Adele Morris, Graham Neale, David Noakes, Damian O'Brien, Jane Salmon and Dan Whitehead.


Absent (13):


Councillors Anood Al-Samerai, Radha Burgess, Dora Dixon-Fyle, Karl Eastham, Paul Fleming, Sirajul Islam, Lorraine Lauder, Alice Macdonald, Victoria Olisa, Sandra Rhule, Martin Seaton, and Bill Williams.


The Mayor declared that the substantive motion was carried.




That Council Assembly:


1.  Agreed to increase the Southwark local council tax for 2022-23 by 1.99%.


2.  Agreed to use the flexibility offered by government to support Adult Social Care through a precept of 1% of council tax on the basis that these additional funds will be used exclusively for adult social care.


3.  Agreed to the recommendations of the 1 February 2022 cabinet.


4.  Agreed to the updated position (paragraphs 12-16 of the original report), summarised below, which incorporates the changes between the provisional and final local government finance settlements:

·  £2.3m additional S.31 grant for changes to inflation

·  £27k additional grant funding as a result of minor formula adjustments

·  £519k additional ring-fenced Public health grant


5.  Noted the announcement from the Chancellor of the Exchequer regarding the Energy Bills Rebate of £150 for most households and that this will be administrated by the council.


Anti-social Behaviour Taskforce


6.  The Council will launch a new taskforce to provide a highly visible presence to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour hotspots, including more community safety wardens. The taskforce will work collaboratively with other agencies such as the Police and the Multi-agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH), as well as the community, to identify and tackle hotspots. The taskforce will aim to:

·  Improve the lives of those living in areas where anti-social behaviour persists.

·  Free up capacity of the current wardens, so they do not spend a disproportionate amount of time on a few areas or estates.

·  Further strengthen the Council’s partnerships with other agencies and the community.


7.  The Council will commit £529,000 per year over the course of the next four years, totalling £2,116,000. The funding for the new taskforce will be found from additional money allocated from central government through the local government financial settlement.


Council assembly noted:


8.  The council is committed to ensuring that Southwark is a safe place for all residents


9.  The council’s wardens have done an excellent job throughout the pandemic, performing knife sweeps, fly-tipping reinforcement and tackling anti-social behaviour (ASB). Over the course of the past two years, the wardens have worked in very challenging circumstances to enforce COVID-19 rules.


10.  There are particular locations in the borough which have higher levels of crime and ASB, which take up a disproportionate amount resource


11.  The Council has faced £146m of budget cuts since 2010. Despite these significant cuts, the Council has been able to retain a warden service. Additional resource, focused in hotspots to free up existing wardens to work across the borough, would improve the service across Southwark.


Council assembly further noted that:


12.  Tackling crime and disorder is, primarily the role of the police. The number of police officers in London has fallen from 4.1 per thousand Londoners in 2010 to 3.3 per thousand in 2018. The amount spent on policing per person fell 20 per cent in London between 2013 and 2017, compared to an average drop of 6 per cent across the country.


13.  That the Joint Enforcement Model, where Community Wardens and Local Policing teams perform joint controls and tasking, has helped but has not made up for the implications of both council and policing cuts.


Council assembly therefore resolved to:


14.  Commit £529,000 per year, over the course of the next four years, towards a Community Warden Taskforce to tackle anti-social behaviour hotspots.


15.  Commit to partnership working, including with our communities to tackle anti-social behaviour.


Cost of living


16.  The Council will commit £471,000 to support residents hit by the Cost of Living Crisis. This money will come from additional money allocated from central government through the local government financial settlement.


Council assembly noted that:


17.  Southwark Council is committed to supporting its residents in financial hardship, as demonstrated by the extraordinary effort helping residents through the pandemic delivered in partnership with the local voluntary and community sector. This includes tripping our emergency support fund for residents facing a crisis who need help.


18.  The rising cost of living is hitting Southwark residents hard. Energy prices are rapidly increasing by £700, the Bank of England expects inflation to reach 7% and a 1.25% rise in national insurance will come into effect in April. The number of residents claiming Universal Credit has more than doubled during the pandemic and the government’s decision to cut Universal Credit (UC) by £20 per week has been another blow to residents claiming UC.


19.   The challenges listed above will hit those on lowest incomes the most. In particular, energy prices for those on a meter (most likely to be those who do not own their own home) are likely to see prices rise by more than £700.


20.  The government has announced a loan of £200 in the form of a bill credit on all energy bills, and a cash payment of £150 for those living within a Band A-D property. However, the gap between the cost of living increases and support provided by the government remains unobtainable for many low earners in Southwark.


Council assembly therefore resolved to:


21.  Set up a £471,000 fund to support residents through the Cost of Living Crisis, including increasing emergency support for people who may be tipped into crisis through no fault of their own, providing support to minimise inflation hikes, and launching an energy saving service so people on low incomes can access the best advice to keep your gas and electricity bills down. Ensuring the whole fund is distributed to those who need help the most.


22.  Work in partnership with the local voluntary and community sector to ensure we reach the residents who need this support the most.


Chief Finance Officer assurance on robustness of budget estimates


23.  The Strategic Director of Finance and Governance, as the statutory section 151 officer, has confirmed that these proposals are lawful and implementable and overall do not impact on the total budget requirement for 2022/23. The Strategic Director of Finance and Governance has confirmed that, subject to the agreement to this amendment by Council Assembly, plans will need to be put in place to implement the proposals as early as practicable in 2022-23.

Supporting documents: