Lewisham borough anti-cuts campaign on Wednesday

Lewisham Council is planning to make substantial cuts to public services in the borough. It is being pushed into taking these steps by the national government's excessive cut-backs. A demonstration has been planned to protest against the cuts planned by the council, and the impact they will have on vulnerable local people's lives.




The demo has been called by Lewisham NUT. There are two stages in the cuts; the first stage is worth £21m. According to the organisers it means that:
- half of council buildings could close;
- 5 of 12 libraries could be shut (as previously covered on BC );
- over 30 children & young people's posts will be cut by November;
- there will be nearly £1m cuts in community safety, wardens services & police community support;
- over £1m will be cut from adult social care;
- day care support for users with learning disabilities will be cut by nearly £500k;
- £500k savings will be made in adult social care by "requiring clients to purchase care privately";
- over £1m will be cut from property services (24 posts - nearly a third of staff);
- road cleaning, street sweeping and night-time refuse collection will be cut back;
- economic development will be cut by £500k, with up to 30 jobs going;
- the anti-fraud team will be cut;
- the finance team will be cut by nearly £1m, almost a quarter of its current budget.

Additionally, a 2nd stage of cuts is planned, in which according to the NUT £10m cuts will be involved. This includes:
- £2m from early years centres (1 in 4 to close);
- £400k school improvement officers will go;
- £1m property management, halving the number of council-owned buildings by selling off office buildings, libraries, adult education and community centres;
- £400k on parks and improvements to open spaces;
- £400k on IT and equipment, due to reduced staffing (ie. redundancies).

These two stages of cuts deliver £31m of savings in total; however Lewisham is required to save £60m. Therefore these cuts only cover half of the savings that will be required all-in-all.

The demo will take place from 5.15-6.30pm on Weds 14th July, outside Lewisham Council Town Hall in Catford.

Thanks to Transpontine for flagging up the information.

67 comments:

Miss Adelaide said...

Arrgh, wish it wasn't so early. Surely most people won't be able to get back from work by then?

Tamsin said...

A lobby has to be that early to catch the councillors as they go in to vote.

But slightly later that same evening there is also a Public meeting on the issues of Foundation Trust status for the University Hospital Lewisham and the creeping privatisation of the NHS as exemplified by the putting out to tender of the path. services that same evening at in the Saville Centre SE13 6LJ at 7pm. (The Saville Centre is on the left hand side of Lewisham High Street going north from Catford just before the hospital between Felday Road and Albercore Crescent.)

Lou Baker said...

Dear Union Morons,

Grow up. The country needs to save huge amounts of money and you need to play your part.

So stop having a hissy fit and identify cuts. Perhaps you could start by making it less difficult to fire the crap teachers we all know are endemic in our schools.

But, hey, you don't have to worry about our kids' future when you've got nothing but your selfish members' interest on your minds.

Love Lou

PS: @Tamsin - I used private healthcare for the first time last year. It's a revelation. Clean hospitals, pleasant staff, appointments on time, referrals within days. If I'd have waited for the NHS I'd still be sick now. The NHS has a
hell of a lot to learn from the private sector - and so long as care remains largely free at the point if delivery this creeping privatisation you talk about should be largely a good thing - so long as it's done properly. Oh and I say the NHS should only remain largely free at the point of delivery because somethings should not be available on it. eg) elective cosmetic surgery, IVF - and people who miss appointments should be charged.

Brockley Nick said...

@Kate - What is the NUT's evidence for the claims about the second stage of cuts, do you know?

It should be made clear that Lewisham Council claims that the £1m cut from community safety budget can be achieved without any reduction in front line services.

The cuts to the finance team are mainly about efficiency savings such as renegotiating supplier contracts and reducing IT bills, as far as I recall.

What does "half of all Council buildings could close" mean? Does that mean Council offices? If so, I assume this calculation is based on the idea that some reduction in head count means that they can close one or two other office buildings they currently occupy? If so, so what? My company centralised its office requirements a couple of years ago "closing half of its offices", by moving everyone in to one office. Works much better.

I have to say that with one or two exceptions (eg: library), most of the cuts outlined thus far seem pretty sensible to me, if one accepts that the scale of cuts planned is necessary.

I'd rather campaigns focused on winnable battles for specific things, eg: libraries, adult care facilities.

Campaigning against cuts in general makes them sound like an irrelevant bunch of economic refuseniks at a time when - as you say - even bigger battles could lie ahead.

Tamsin said...

@ Lou - but it's not being done properly. It's being done by government who could not tie up a decently tight contract to save their lives, let alone the lives of patients. You are not talking about beautifully managed and presented BUPA hospitals dealing with tests, investigations and routine operations for a very high charge, but de-motivated employees doing essential services with the private companies or international corporations that employ them charging over the odds to the public purse and taking a massive middle slice as their profits. And when anything goes wrong you will have lawyers searching through mounds of badly drafted contract for the gaping loopholes to do down the victim and/or screw the taxpayer further.

Tone down the language a bit - I got carried away, but you get the picture...

Isloumad? said...

I find lou's faith that the market is only way to provide services and that the public sector are uniformaly incompetent rather sweet, in a child like way.

If only things were as straightforward.

Anonymous said...

Kate, as said on the other thread, the £60m figure for cuts was announced by the Mayor in 2009 and has absolutely nothing to do with Osborne's budget (which anyway really wasn't as far different from Darling's plans as both sides are liking to make out). The real fear of national government effects will be if it increases to £80m when the public spending round is announced in Sept. Until then the rest of it is just to do with national and local right-wing-Labour incompetence.

Anonymous said...

Right wing labour incompetence? Do I take it you believe that the current administration is somewhat socialist in flavour? The budget cuts we will see will be deeper and implemented far faster than was proposed by labour, it's an excellent smokescreen to slip in some of the old "Market is good, public is bad" doctrine which defines the conservatives.

Labour we're out of ideas and boxed in by some of their decisions, they deserved to go but the fetish for a simple headline grabing deficit reduction programme has implications that affect us all. The cancelation of school building was but one example. I guess those evil kids with there schools deserve it.

HappyBrockers said...

Oh, how I'd love to go for a drink with Lou Baker and hear some more of his infinte wisdom.

Anonymous said...

No, we've had one right wing government replaced by another right wing government. And yes the cuts will be marginally deeper and about 18month faster than Darling's plans. I'm not defending them, just pointing out the cynicism of TIGMOO's attempt to rewrite history.

Hugh said...

Predictable automatic response from those on the receiving end. I only regret the cuts won't be deeper.

Perhaps we can compare notes here on our experience of council worker industry. I swim at Deptford pool. Anyone been there? About 15 staff sitting around, either behind the glass or near the pool, donig sweet FA. They are clearly on jobs invented by Gordon Brown to reduce welfare figures. The place could be run as well as it is now (which is poorly - note the enormous queues that regularly form at reception) by 5 people.

Austerity? I call it de-redistribution in favour of people who work for a living.

Anonymous said...

Because on the topic of the thread, it doesn't actually really matter how evil the coalition is: it comes down to the fact the first £60m of Lewisham Council cuts were planned under a Labour government and will be implemented by a Labour Mayor.

Anonymous said...

So keep a the money you earn and if you're poor, tough you probably deserve it? I may pop to your house, rob it and leave a steaming turd on your carpet to register my objection to your position.

Monkeyboy said...

Looks like Hugh feels his position of the most economically right wing person on BC is under threat. Lou is marginally ahead I'd say.

Ed said...

Can't help but agree with what Lou, Hugh and Nick have said. Campaigning to keep spending where we don't have the money or can no longer afford it is odd; surely we have to accept that this will be brutal but work out where the cuts need to be made.

Anonymous said...

I'd say that Lou and hugh's position is somewhat less measured.

Brockley Nick said...

@Ed - cheers for lumping me in with Hughey, (Dewey) and Louis.

I'd like to think that there is a LOT of clear blue water between us...

Tim said...

I always assumed brockley central was apolitical, but Kate is clearly anti coalition. It's a shame. Lou doesn't do himself any favours by appearing extremist, but people do need to wake up and smell the coffee. As labour themselves admitted, they spent all the monet and then some. Massive cuts are right and inevitable.

Brockley Nick said...

@Tim - Brockley Central encourages plurality of debate and fairness when debating local political issues. It would be a dull site indeed if contributors didn't express their opinions from time to time though.

Brockley Nick said...

PS - there's little doubt that cutbacks are excessive in terms of cutting the national debt - the coalition is intent on restructuring the economy to shrink the public sector. You can debate whether or not you think that is a desirable outcome, but it is clearly not just about tackling the "debt crisis".

Anonymous said...

Trouble with Hughie and Louis is that they came too much under the influence of their uncle scrooge

Anonymous said...

@Nick - I thought you might not like the associations however there was a common theme in your posts.

Brockley Nick said...

What? That some cuts are necessary?

HGR said...

I notice that no one has actually disagreed with what I said about Deptford pool.

Are the facts important or merely inconvenient impediments to class war?

The BMW 7 Series has central locking in any event.

HGR said...

I notice that no one has actually disagreed with what I said about Deptford pool.

Are the facts important or merely inconvenient impediments to class war?

The BMW 7 Series has central locking in any event.

Anonymous said...

Hugh, as you read this I'm squeezing one out on your hand made Wilton in the drawing room.

Now Then said...

Erk it morphed!, Hugh Your position summarised might be 'There are too many staff at Wavelengths, therefore swingeing cuts of all natures across the Borough are in order.' You really expect a response to this?

I'm most impressed with the beemers remarkable cutting edge technology. Wow central locking eh?..Ejector seat?

Tim said...

Nick, I respect a lot of what you do and say but how can you say that the cutbacks are excessive in terms of cutting the national debt? They barely get us back to a balanced budget, let alone cut the national debt!

Anonymous said...

Nationally a 25-40% cut in departmental budgets is what I think nick is referring too. It's not affecting many people in decent jobs at the mo, mind you were already being warmed up to accept that private sector pensions should only increase in line with the CPI and the schools our kids go to will not be rebuilt so watch this space. The ny times article puts it rather well.

The 60m lewisham thing is a side show compared to what is to come.

Brockley Nick said...

@Tim - because we have long-term bonds so we are not as vulnerable to the debt markets as some economies, the PSBR was less than anticipated (according to the coalition's own "independent" body reviewing public finances) and because there's no need to bring finances back in to balance within one Parliament.

The Tories' economic plan relies on the private sector stepping in to fill the spending gap to stop us tipping back in to recession. This assumes that either the public sector has "crowded out" the private sector (but low interest rates and a very slack labour market suggest this can't be true) or that consumer confidence and buoyant export markets will stimulate investment. I'd suggest that massive budget cuts will damage consumer confidence, while the same thing happening across Europe (our biggest export market) will limit the amount of demand growth we'll see from exports.

Don't take my word for the lack of private sector demand, take the Economist's:
http://econ.st/c6w9If

I'm not suggesting that some further spending cuts were not required, I'm arguing that the unprecedented scale of the cuts is not justified by the size of the debt alone. It's motivated by the view that Government's role needs to be cut back.

Like I say, that's a perfectly reasonable position, but honestly, let's not pretend that it's all about preventing a sovereign debt crisis.

Anonymous said...

Nationally a 25-40% cut in departmental budgets is what I think nick is referring too. It's not affecting many people in decent jobs at the mo, mind you were already being warmed up to accept that private sector pensions should only increase in line with the CPI and the schools our kids go to will not be rebuilt so watch this space. The ny times article puts it rather well.

The 60m lewisham thing is a side show compared to what is to come.

Tim said...

I think we'll have to agree to disagree Nick! Great blog, by the way.

Brockley Nick said...

Thanks.

Anonymous said...

The report the NUT are protesting about points cuts this year due to decisions by the current government are less than £4m.

The previous government announced cuts of £70bn but only produced figures for a fraction of that amount.

Despite numerous opportunities the previous government failed to say what other cuts were required but managed to announce increased spending without the means to find the money.

Was the reason the previous government deferred cuts for one year was becasse a large section of its voters work in the public sector?

Anonymous said...

The leadership of the NUT seem very adept at spending other peoples money.

Anonymous said...

Well I guess people do tend to vote for parties that represent their interests, kind of how it works.

Let's be honest, no party gave much away when it came to the pain that was to come. The lib dems were perhaps the most sly in essentially alligning with the cons despite claiming that the cuts were too much, too soon.

Anonymous said...

Teachers pay taxes and actually work in the schools so they could be forgiven for having a strong opinion. We do seem to be forgetting that the economic model we tripped up over is one that everyone fell foot. Light touch regulation, the Market knows best...... It didn't.

Tamsin said...

"The market" serves the ruthless and self-seeking. Look at post-communist Russia.

Anonymous said...

The Market can work but you needs checks and balances is all.

Brockley Nick said...

Well-regulated markets, healthy competition, markets created for externalities to put a price on "bads"(eg: carbon trading), public investment in things that facilitate growth and provide opportunity (eg: education and transport), public provision of things on which we all rely and where the market can't deliver (eg: health, defence, police).

It's a balance - they are all tools for delivering growth, prosperity and happiness. We'd all have a much more useful economic debate if we all acknowledged this, rather than resorting to tribalism, insults and stereotypes.

Hugh said...

Now Then said...
Erk it morphed!, Hugh Your position summarised might be 'There are too many staff at Wavelengths, therefore swingeing cuts of all natures across the Borough are in order.' You really expect a response to this?

It was an example of a larger problem, you intellectual midget.

Now Then said...

Hugh. Do they let you in the deep end on your own?

Now Then said...

You were inviting people to comment on the example rather than the larger problem, I suggested that people might have better things to do.

Lou Baker said...

Ah, but Nick there's a problem with your argument. The things you think 'we' rely on and the things others think 'we' rely on are not necessarily the same.

Despite being unfairly pilloried as a luny righty I, for example, would argue that 'we' don't need to spend billions of pounds on Trident because our country doesn't need nuclear weapons. Indeed, we don't need much of a military at all. We also don't need nuclear power stations. We don't need new prisons and we don't need taxpayer funded 'community events' like People's Day. T-shirts and key-rings with council logos on should be banned, for example.

We absolutely should have better railways, decent roads and should invest fully in green technologies.

The problem, as I see it, is that too many people believe that public services are free. They're not.

For most of us our biggest individual expense is not our mortgage, rent, car repayments or anything like that. It's our taxes. If you're on an average income not far off half of everything you earn goes in some shape or form to government.

And as sure as I wouldn't buy a car without checking first it was value for money, I think we should make sure our taxes are too.

If you're on an average wage - say around £24k - you pay £10k year in taxes.

Excluding debt, health takes up around 18 per cent of government spending. That means the NHS costs you close to £2k per year. That's if you're on an average salary. My private health care costs me £500.

So does the NHS represent good value to me? I find my GP unhelpful, the appointment system inconvenient and inflexible and most of the staff I come across are bolshy and rude. But the NHS is my safety net because BUPA's not much good if I get run over by a bus. Still I'd argue that for 4 times the price of my private healthcare policy it represents pretty poor value for money.

Same with education. That costs us £1000 per year. We should be happy to pay of course - providing those schools are doing a proper job and teaching the kids well.

Because if kids aren't taught well they grow up to be problem adults. And that costs us a whole lot more in taxes to fund the police, criminal justice and benefits system.

I'd like to see the government and the council both start again. Don't think about cuts. Go back to zero and think from the start what do we actually need.

Stating the bleeding obvious said...

Lou, the pupa thing is an extra. Do you really think you would get a&e cover, gp coverage, surgery, physio, etc, etc? It's not a fair comparison. Also, if you had three kids would the same notional two grand cover them and granny? Then there's the ambulances, paramedics, drugs......

Your argument is deeply disingenuous.

Brockley Nick said...

@Lou - re defence - you're not arguing that it's a necessary public expense, just that you'd create a different kind of defence budget. Fine, but that's a completely different argument.

re: health - as has already been pointed out, comparing BUPA cover for routine healthcare needs for someone who I assume is relatively fit and well is completely different from providing universal healthcare for an entire population. A better comparison would be to see what proportion of GDP the UK spends on health compared with the privatised US system and then ask yourself which is the more efficient.

Anonymous said...

There has been an absurd amount of council/government spending over decades. We now live in a society where people ask 'what am I entitled to?', and 'how much can I get?', while not feeling any sense of responsibility for the funding. There is no money left- many realised this before the post-it note was left in the Treasury. We ALL have to tighten our belts, and accept that things will be tough for a while. Unless we all want to enter a 50% tax bracket on all earnings, this spending has to be reduced. Now.

Lou Baker said...

@anon

Well said.

But you see how difficult it is. You advocate scrapping people's day and some numpties prattle on about community and demand their 'free' annual Lewisham Council branded keyring.

I make the point that the NHS doesn't actual serve its patients very well compared with private health care and Nick, spuriously, brings up America.

Proper reform is hard because it'll mean axing and changing things that people are used to. That library down the road may become the library further down the road. That weekly bin collection may become fortnightly etc

One of my pet peeves is tax credits. What a bonkers idea.
Not because I think less well off people should pay more tax, but because it's be better to charge them less tax in the first place rather than employing thousands of extra pen-pushers to give them money they've already paid back. Only government could come up with such a lousy idea.

Anonymous said...

Meanwhile the GMB Union is protesting at the head of Tidemill School being paid over £200,000 last year.

Reporter from the BBC outside the school as I write, so far no comment from the NUT.

Anonymous said...

Lou, your comparison of the 500 quid bupa coverage with the nhs was the only spurious comparison.

Anonymous said...

Lou, your comparison of the 500 quid bupa coverage with the nhs was the only spurious comparison.

Brockley Nick said...

@Lou - please stop fantasising about yourself as a lone crusader for truth. Your criticism of tax credits is hardly novel - in fact, I agree with you.

It's not spurious to compare the cost of healthcare in two different countries. It is spurious to claim BUPA superior to the NHS based on a routine verruca removal in a hospital wing with a few plasma tellies.

Tamsin said...

The comparison of the British and American healthcare systems is always instructive. Anyone seen Michael Moore's "Sicko"?

Here we scare-monger - with some justification I personally believe - about our health service sliding into the American model, in the US last year when the health reforms were being pushed through the mantra from the right was that they did not want to go towards the British system of state "interference". A nice irony - if it was not so desperately important.

Brockley Nick said...

Eurgh, I wish you hadn't used Michael Moore as a source, but here's a good table: OECD data from 2004. UK spends 7.5% GDP on healthcare compared with the super-efficient private system in the US, which spends... 13.9%.

http://bit.ly/Fe6Km

Tamsin said...

The NHS almost always comes up trumps when you need it. Talking recently to someone whose daughter had an embolism in her leg at at time when she was due to give birth. In these circumstances a CS was not an option, nor was an epidural, and it was a breech delivery. She had several top consultants at her bedside throughout. Happily all went well - just in her second confinement, without such issues and only the midwife in attendance, the question was "where is everyone?"

Tamsin said...

OK, he picks on extremes - but they are there. Most telling for me was the woman in the insurance company whose job it was taking intial phone calls from desperate people knowing that they were going to be told later their life-threatening diseases were not covered by their insurance.

Moves have been afoot to give people personal budgets to pay for their care assistance in their own homes. Already there is an agency in place offering to assist in this - and obviously take its cut. Such systems have to be less efficient with this middle slice being taken out of it.

HappyBrockers said...

I am planning to set up an agency to provide support to people with a personal budget.

The middle agencies are not necessarily money making schemes. They may simply act as 'Personal Brokers' who assess what is available for the person with the personal budget and will work with the individual to decide what care/ support they would like to receive. The personal broker ensures their budget can cover this care and support.

Personally, I believe it is a good scheme, if it lives up to its billing.
Working in this sector I have often seen that inappropriate resources are being offered to my clients, and that they do not have a say in what they actually wish to receive, what time they receive it, and how often. This leads to disempowerment of the individual, which is not good for their mental health.

I am glad to hear an agency is now available that is making 'Personalisation' more accessible to all, as I was becoming slightly concerned that it was never going to happen.

Tamsin said...

That's most interesting. "if it lives up to its billing" is a big "if". If it can work, well and good, but, apart from the extra tier of costs and admin., do the vulnerable and/or elderly need the hassle and worries of employing people.

Anonymous said...

Ah remember the days when people used to point to the Russian system as a model for social housing, equal opportunity, education etc.

HappyBrockers said...

Yes Tamsin, 'If'. I'm sceptical because I have been battling to get my business set up, and have come across several barriers. You never know quite how things will work, until they come in to action. You have to plan to account for this.

The middle agencies would take away the hassle of employing people directly, because they would act as brokers. They would assess the needs of the client, discussing what support and care they wish to receive, and what they actually need to receive. They would discuss the choices the individual has, and what is most important to them.
If an individual wishes to continue without a personal budget, they are still free to do so. But, personalisation offers choice. At the moment elderly people do not have choice as to the time of day their carer visits them, they do not have choice over what support they receive from the carer. They are not able to employ someone simply to come and have a cup of tea and spend some time with them. Personalisation would give them the option to change this. It is empowerment, and how can that be a bad thing? Particularly for our most vulnerable.

It is a government initiative, and I regularly attend meetings of how we can make it work. It differs on how they will bring it in for most London Boroughs.
The scheme has already been piloted in Essex and Cambridgeshire, and has worked effectively.

The costs will not necessarily be affected. Every one's budget will be assessed on an individual basis. The whole scheme will reduce the wasted money on care and support that people do not need and allow the money to be spent more accurately. this is likely to decrease stays in hospitals for mental and physical reasons because the individual is receiving more appropriate support for their needs.

Anonymous said...

Lou is Ma Baker your mum.

Anonymous said...

Town Hall & Laurence House to be demolished.

In 2009 an investment company bought the lease of Tesco's Catford. In February this year the council purchased the leases surrounding Catford Shopping centre.

As part of a possible regeneration scheme for Catford is the following....

- consolidation of public sector functions into a new office building;

- demolition of the Town Hall and Laurence House;


- a rerouting of the TFL road the A205;

- new pedestrianised areas and open spaces.

It's all in a report going before the Mayor tomorrow July 14.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with Hugh that Wavelengths is spectacularly badly run though. The queuing system at reception is a farce (and would be easily fixed by somebody with the slightest hint of nous changing the system a bit) and the staff are monosyllabic, usually unhelpful and often rude. The place is dirty and the showers have been broken ever since I first went there more than 5 years ago. If you're lucky/patient you can get the one that has enough of a dribble coming out of it to serve its purpose. I'm referring to the old 'fun' pool, not the new one which, I assume, is cleaner and has showers that work.

TJ said...

New pool great - but new showers often broken and the place is dirty

Now Then said...

Does anyone know what the cuts to 'day care support for users with learning disabilities' would mean in practice? Bit surprised not to see it mentioned thus far.

Tamsin said...

@ HappyBrockers
Very, very interesting. But the ideal surely has to be the funders taking that same sort of intelligent approach and still retaining responsibility and accountability.

Do, though, get in touch direct. It is a matter that my employers might well be having a members debate on in the foreseeable future and it could be useful to draw upon your properly informed opinion.

HappyBrockers said...

@ Tamsin In Camden, where I currently work, they are in the process of setting up a database for available services. Some are recommended by the council, others will have not been assessed, or wont be recommended.
From what I gather, it will work much like star ratings on 'e-bay'.

A lot of work is also being done regarding safeguarding vulnerable adults and children.

Unfortunately, I do not have all the answers, and have not had much luck drawing information from Lewisham Council. I'm happy to feedback what I have learned from the Camden Focus Groups and general research on the matter.

I'll send you an email, let me know if you plan to discuss the issue.

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