Standing up for Lambeth
Lambeth is one of the most diverse and open places on the planet. People from all over the world come to Lambeth to build a life for themselves and their families. Hundreds of languages are spoken in our schools and on our streets; it’s part of what makes Lambeth such a special place. We’re home to the largest Portuguese community outside Portugal, one of the largest Somali communities outside Somalia and are the historic home to Britain’s Caribbean community. We will celebrate our borough’s diversity together with local communities and schools to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the arrival of the Empire Windrush this summer.
We’re proud that 79% of Lambeth voted to remain in the EU referendum and we’ve lobbied the government to protect the rights of the more than 30,000 European citizens in Lambeth. We don’t believe that our friends and neighbours should be treated as a bargaining chip -- but sadly the Conservatives both nationally and locally refuse to support a guarantee of their rights. And already we’re seeing the effect of Brexit on our economy, on the costs in the construction market which affects the building of affordable homes, and on the numbers of EU workers coming to support our public services. We have been fighting against the Conservative government’s disastrous hard Brexit and a re-elected Labour council will fight for the rights of EU citizens, and membership of the single market and customs union.
Since 2010 Lambeth has been the target of deep government cuts in funding from both the Conservative government and the Conservative/Lib Dem coalition. The Conservatives have cut our core funding by 56%, demonstrating how little they value the vital difference local services and public sector workers make to people’s lives.
Inner city areas like Lambeth have faced far deeper cuts in government funding than wealthier parts of the country. Figures from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation calculated that the 20% most deprived local authorities, like Lambeth, had faced a cut of £220 in government funding for every resident while the wealthiest areas had only lost £40 per person.
Since 2010 Lambeth has had to find £250 million in budget savings because of government cuts, which is equivalent to more than three and a half times the council’s total budget for children’s services.
We have campaigned against government cuts since 2010, fighting to protect our fantastic public services. Together we’ve saved Clapham fire station and Gipsy Hill police station from closure, fought against cuts to local schools and to protect our local NHS. We are now standing with London’s Labour Mayor, Sadiq Khan, to oppose the latest round of Tory police cuts.
Locally we’ve been bold and innovative in our approach to defending local services and protecting Lambeth’s most vulnerable residents. By working with the voluntary sector, community groups and changing our own approach, we’ve kept all ten libraries, and our 23 outstanding children’s centres open. We’ve also been prudent in managing the council’s finances, reducing the number of council buildings from fourteen to two, saving £4.5 million a year for frontline services.
We’ve also saved millions from renegotiating council contracts, moving services online and cutting the back-office to protect spending on the front-line. We saved £2 million by bringing Lambeth’s park service back in-house and saved over £2 million a year on our customers services contract. Our decision to bring housing management back into the council in 2015 saved £3.7 million last year, meaning more money for repairs, fire safety and improved tenant services. Where we can improve services for residents and deliver better value for money by bringing more services back in house, we will.
Lambeth has the ninth lowest council tax of the 32 London boroughs. Over the past few years we’ve all paid more to protect local services, while also keeping council tax affordable for local families. Lambeth residents shouldn’t have to pay the price for the failure of Tory austerity and we will continue to fight for fair funding from central government. If re-elected Labour will keep council tax one of the lowest in London, giving a fair deal to Lambeth residents and explore a new voluntary top rate of council tax for the very richest in our society.
And for residents who are on low incomes we offer discounts or exemptions to council tax. We will protect those discounts or exemptions through our Council Tax Support Scheme for residents including pensioners, registered disabled residents, carers, families subject to the benefit cap and war widows. And because we know that council tax debt can be a cause of concern, we will continue to ban the use of bailiffs for vulnerable residents.
Under Labour’s leadership we’re weathering the storm of Tory cuts in Lambeth. While Conservative-run Northamptonshire council has effectively gone bust and the experiment of a Green-run council in Brighton ended in failure with rubbish piled high on local streets, Lambeth Labour is building a better and fairer borough for all.