Council consultation on Lewisham benefit cuts

Lewisham Council writes:

Cut a further £3million from services or cut weekly benefit by an average of around £2 for more than 36,000 households? That’s the stark choice facing Lewisham Council after the Government announced the abolition of Council Tax Benefit.

The Government is passing on the funds for councils to run their own Council Tax Support Scheme, but cutting the total by 10 per cent. Benefit for pensioners has to be protected, so working age people could see their benefit cut by more than 10 per cent.

Faced with a tough decision to cut services or cut benefits the Council is asking for the views of local residents on its proposed scheme. This survey will run until 30 September.

Key facts:

  • There are 114,000 domestic properties in the borough
  • 36,000 Lewisham residents currently receive £28m in Council Tax Benefit
  • 8,333 Lewisham pensioners get Council Tax Benefit
  • 27,928 working age claimants get Council Tax Benefit
  • 5,430 Council Tax Benefit claimants are disabled
  • 8,108 Council Tax Benefit claimants are single parents
Find out more and have your say here.


Anonymous said...

Excuse me but one of the first things our elected Mayor did off his own back in 2002 was to cut spending by £3m.

Didn't he go into the last election boasting he'd cut spending by £18m?

In 2006/07 before any finacial crisis he was warned by Lewisham Homes his cuts would create problems, now we have Lewisham Homes being demolished.

People in need of care were re categorised to fit in with cuts made back in 2006.

The elected Mayor rushed through the construction of Crossways despite expert advice stating it was not required and within 10 years it's being closed and the 'urgently' required school still hasn't opened.

Then there's the little matter of the private loan from the 1980's where the interest was not paid, resulting in emergency action costing £28m to prevent a housing crisis.

Now Mayor has a majority in the council we are back to the old 'tough' decisions Bullock's.

Anonymous said...

Lewisham Gateway scrapped?

Anonymous said...

I'm a working single parent still receive help Fri lewisham and I'm for benefits bring cut especially for those with children and are capable of working I we are given too much in benefits and my children have the best of everything and are of good health extra money I have I use to help family who are strugglling to survive and can't claim for the help they need too many people take advantage of the system and stop those who really need it from claiming. I personally know at least 5 families who claim and shouldn't and are very sure the majority who do have no need

? said...

An anecdote, expect we'll be getting lots of those. Not especially useful.

Ian on the Hill said...

Another (successful) attempt to shift the responsibility for cuts onto Local Authorities so the Tories can shrug and say 'not me mate, it's those inefficient, profligate Councils'.

Can't imagine Kingston will have much problem with this, its the poorest boroughs that'll have to make the biggest cuts.

I wish to Dog there was some way to get these b@stards out early, while we still have some functioning government left.

Kirsty said...

Ian - there's no money left - it's got to come from somewhere.

Let me guess - 'tax the bankers!'. Yawn.

Anonymous said...

The consultation is a bit shallow. The obvious options as to where to get the money - reduce council inefficiency and slash unnecessary, or less necessary, services and staffing - doesn't seem to get a mention. The only options given are to cut other benefits or to shift the burden onto all rate-payers to pay more.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps there is a third way?

Perhaps the council could do something about the £35 million in council tax that they have failed to collect to date?

Business as usual said...

£2 a week is not a lot if you can afford to do it. Without going on about the haves and have not's.

Everyone regardless of circumstances needs economies. I think everyone should have to tighten there belts, including those on benefits to a point.

I could pay say 50p per week more council tax, but I would expect those on benefits to loose say 50p a week in benefits and a the council to economize by £1. Therefore meeting the £2 saving.

There is no way though that I should foot the full bill for public and private inefficiencies.

We need to weed out benefit cheats, both big and small. Evey little helps!

Those that shouldn't and don't need as much help, need to stop milking it. Taking advantage of the system is stealing from you and me.
It's not the government's money it's our money.

We'll end up paying for it one way or another in the long run, if we let it continue.

I think the council staff on the front line and middle management do a great job at running the day to day services in Lewisham, and are already under pressure to deliver. Thank You.

As for Mayor Bullock and some of the other cronies, You won't be getting my vote any more, you decision making abilities and lack of both insight and foresight are shocking.

Anonymous said...

Conversely, £2 if you cant afford it. And what is the proportion of cheats? For national level it's less than 1%. As always it's the "feckless" hoards of benefit cheats who are paying for the utter cluelessness, incompetence and fraud of the city.

Anonymous said...

I think the outcome is a foregone conclusion given the rhetoric surrounding benefits at the minute, and the general hysteria with which any suggestion of a cut in services is met.

The consultation also seems to worded in a fairly biased way - £3m as compared to an average of £2 per week. Well £2 per week is an average so some people will lose a lot more, and £3m buys you basically f*** all in council services, but comparing the two figures has the desired effect I suppose.

I volunteer for a debt advice service and the majority of people I see aren't claiming Council Tax Benefit, but trying to pay the bill. The amounts are so high for people on low or zero incomes that it's pretty much impossible for them to keep up. A reduction in this benefit really will be bad news for many people.

Still, heaven forfend people should go onto fortnightly rubbish collections - they might actually have to start thinking about how much they waste.

Anonymous said...

Why can't they sell a few of the many thousands of properties that they own? They aren't property managers

Anonymous said...

Since there is the option to chose, it means that there is scope for cutting both.

No need to choose, just cut services, benefits and Council Management salaries starting from the top for once

oryx said...

Thanks for posting up the link to the council's survey.

I've taken advantage of it by saying that the burden should fall on second home and empty property owners.

If you object to the burden falling on skint and/or vulnerable people, I'd urge you to do the same.

Anonymous said...

I'd urge you to vote for cutting out council inefficiencies rather thn increasing th burden on the rest of the community which is hardly the riches in London to start with.

Anonymous said...

Does anybody have the statistics for the proportion of Council Tax Benefit claimants in the borough compared to the total number of Council Tax Payers? If this is higher than average across London maintaining or increasing the total amounts of benefits risks he borough losing those who will subsidise this (other ratepayers) to other boroughs and thereby increasing the cycle of depression in the borough.

Anonymous said...

Taxpayers at national level pay for Lewisham's services.

Not many years ago Lewisham raised about £70m in Council Tax but....the council paid roughly £35m of interest on debt and £35m to reduce debt.

Most new debt is 'off the books' hence all the 'commercially sensitive' deals made in secret.

In the past you could see what the council borrowed, for how long and for what interest rate.

Now the debt is hidden in long term commercial service contracts with private companies.

Anonymous said...

Councils shouldn't be borrowing in the first place. All that does is move the problem from the current taxpayers to future ones; from us to our children (if they decide to stay in this borough) or to other people's children (if they wisely decide to go somewhere more fiscally prudent). It's all a bit unethical. The Council should provide today the service it can pay for today. And if it can't pay for it, it shouldn't provide it.

Peter Peepee said...

Throw them all out on the street!

Anonymous said...

No need to cut, sell the nice and expensive houses owned by the Council...

Anonymous said...

The facts you've posted on the post are misleading, because:
1. the first stat is how many properties there are, the following stats are how many people claim benefits. The two aren't like-for-like and makes the numbers of claimants seem proportionately higher. It would be less misleading if the first figure showed total number of people, not properties.
2. You only say how much benefit claimants cost the system. By failing to providing comparison figures for how much the council spends on services it makes the claimants' figure seem higher. For example, the social welfare bill of this country seems very high, but it is rarely compared with the amount of tax dodged by companies and the uberrich: i don't have the figures to hand but believe the latter is at least double the former. We need figures in comparison in order to be able to assess them properly, otherwise it appears skewed.

Please don't get me wrong, thank you for posting, but your selection of figures is misleading.

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