Lewisham budget cuts - public consultation results

Lynn: Who’s upset you this time?
Alan: Just… people. I just… hate the general public.
- I'm Alan Partrdige

Following Lewisham's big conversation about where and how the Council should find cost savings, it has released a summary of the results. Even this top-line version comes with the caveat that the consultation that involved 1,200 residents was in no-way a poll or referendum, merely a useful guide.

Depressingly, the 1,000 survey respondents said that town centres - one of the few public resources we all use and one of the most important drivers of local prosperity - were considered the area that could most easily have spending reduced. This result is possibly due to the fact that the consultation lumped the word "business" in with "town centres", and everyone knows that businesses are all run by fat cats. Either that or it just goes to show that people don't know what's good for them. Likewise Climate Change and Employment and Training fared poorly. Adult social care (by far the largest single item of Council expenditure considered by this survey, with a budget of £69m) was deemed the area that it is least acceptable to cut, followed by activities for young people.

Roads, sport and libraries were the areas of Council expenditure that respondents said they'd be most willing to pay more for.

In the "Have Your Say" forms provided at local assemblies "cleaning the borough" came out as the clear priority, followed by libraries.

Here's the full presentation and here's what the Council release says:

The following themes came out strongly:

- Protect spending on services to the most vulnerable in the community
- It’s acceptable to reduce spending in some areas, but generally only in those areas where the Council spends relatively small sums
- People are prepared to pay more for some services
- Businesses could do more and the Council could help people to do more
- The Council should continue to find efficiencies and cut its costs.

People generally thought it was right that levels of service should be reviewed in order to find ways to reduce spending and, where possible, to find efficiencies and reduce staff costs. Significant numbers were prepared to pay more, or have people charged more, for some services, rather than see them cut. A significant number of people also said they would do more themselves to reduce the need for Council spending on services, although this was still a minority (around one in ten).

What do you think? And as you write, bear in mind that this thread was lifted almost wholesale for the Local Government Chronicle's "Views of the Week" column (thanks to Ruth for spotting that), so what you say could go right to the top... of the Local Government Chronicle's news editor's in-tray.