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Any developer not meeting Lambeth’s 40% affordable housing target will soon be forced to publish their viability assessments under proposals to be voted on by Lambeth’s Labour Cabinet next Monday.

The move is designed to make it more difficult for developers to dodge their affordable housing obligations. Public confidence has been damaged by well documented abuses of the current system, with some developers undervaluing sales values and inflating construction costs to keep projected surpluses artificially low.

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These flaws in the planning system were identified in the Labour Party commissioned Lyons report which found that the lack of standardised methodology was allowing “different parties to pick the methodology most to their advantage” and “working in favour of the partner with the most skilled consultants acting for it.”

With 22,000 people on the housing waiting list in Lambeth and figures released last week showing that the number of affordable homes built in England has dipped to the lowest level for two decades, major developments are a vital source of homes for people in need. In Lambeth, there are some great examples of how the system should work. Housing developments completed on Black Prince Road in Kennington, Valley Road in Streatham and Macaulay Road in Clapham over the last year have all delivered at least 40% affordable housing – a total of 60 new homes for people on the waiting list.  

The new planning requirements, to be included in a supplementary planning document (SPD), will  mean that developers who fail to meet the affordable homes target will be expected to publish a viability assessment explaining why, that will be publicly available and not redacted. The SPD is also intended to improve consistency in approach, and ensure that viability appraisals are formed of inputs that are supported by robust evidence.

This will help end the damaging perception that deals with developers are done behind closed doors and are not transparent, clear or fair

The draft development viability SPD  will be available for comment on the council’s website as part of a 12 week consultation ending in February.

Lambeth to force publication of viability assessments

Any developer not meeting Lambeth’s 40% affordable housing target will soon be forced to publish their viability assessments under proposals to be voted on by Lambeth’s Labour Cabinet next Monday....

The Tory government have announced that they are pushing ahead with huge cuts to community pharmacy budgets, meaning that pharmacies will face a 12% cut on current funding levels for the rest of this financial year, and a 7.4% cut on current levels the year after.

The pharmacy sector expects the effect of these cuts to be devastating and the government minister previously responsible for pharmacy funding estimated earlier this year that up to 3,000 pharmacies could close, which represents a quarter of all pharmacies across the country.

Research produced by the House of Commons Library shows that up to 20 pharmacies across Lambeth are under threat as a result of these funding cuts and we are very concerned about the damaging impact there could be on our local communities as a result.

The government have announced a ‘Pharmacy Access Scheme’ with the aim to “protect access in areas where there are fewer pharmacies with higher health needs”. Yet the reality is that the scheme is based entirely on distance from other pharmacies and takes no notice of local health needs at all, meaning that areas like Lambeth have been overlooked and will receive none of this funding.

Our pharmacies in Lambeth are vital local assets which provide very important face to face health services, particularly for the elderly, disabled, our BAME communities and those with long term illnesses. Any pharmacy closures or service cutbacks will only cause extra pressure to be piled on already overstretched GP and A&E services.

It is unbelievable that the government is pushing ahead with these cuts despite admitting they have no idea of the final total of pharmacies that could close as a result.

In Lambeth we are clear that these funding cuts pose a severe threat to our local community health services. Please support our campaign opposing these cuts to the community pharmacies that residents across Lambeth rely on by signing our petition calling on the government to reconsider

http://www.lambeth-labour.org.uk/save_our_pharmacies

Cllr Jim Dickson

Cabinet Member for Healthier and Stronger Communities

Tory cuts threaten local pharmacies across Lambeth

The Tory government have announced that they are pushing ahead with huge cuts to community pharmacy budgets, meaning that pharmacies will face a 12% cut on current funding levels for...

Councillor Jane Pickard, Cabinet Member for Families and Young People, blogs on Tory funding cuts that threaten Lambeth's successful children's centres

Lambeth’s Children’s Centres are a real success story – all 23 are rated good or outstanding by OFSTED and offer a range of universal services, as well as targeted services for the most needy families.  They are mostly run in partnership with our schools and in areas of deprivation and high need they can be a lifeline, which is why Lambeth Labour promised to protect Children’s Centre services in our 2014 manifesto.

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Over the summer the Department of Education (DfE) made a surprise announcement about how ‘Early Years’ funding will be calculated which could put all of this at risk.  Lambeth is one of the few boroughs that could lose out considerably, with a potential £2m cut to our grant and a restriction on how much money can be retained by the council to redistribute on services.  While lots of other councils use this retained funding for “internal” costs such as admin and back office, the bulk of Lambeth’s retained funding goes straight back to schools to spend on front line services for children and their families.

Even though the Tory manifesto promised to increase nursery places for three and four year olds, the DfE’s latest plans will just put existing places in Lambeth at risk.  As usual the Tories are ignoring evidence of local need by trying to implement a universal funding formula across the country.  This just doesn’t work when staff costs and rents are so much higher in inner London boroughs like Lambeth.  Our five Nursery Schools currently provide over 6,000 hours of outstanding free provision for three and four year olds, but this will be under real threat from the funding proposals.

In particular, the new funding proposals would exacerbate inequality in our borough. Only children whose parents are in work would be entitled to the 30 hours a week. If their parents lost their jobs, the children's entitlement could be shaved back to 15 hours. At present, the we use some of our early years funding to provide 30 hours a week to children in greatest need from families suffering higher levels of deprivation. As many of these families are out of work, some of the children would lose their eligibility. So the poorest three and four-year-olds will potentially have had less access to early learning when they start school, becoming doubly disadvantaged.

Lambeth responded formally to the DfE consultation in September but with no confirmation on how much funding will be available, I have written to the minister, Rt Hon Justine Greening MP, along with my colleagues Cllr Jane Edbrooke and Cllr Claire Holland, urging her to rethink their plans to ensure no borough is worse off as a result of these changes.

We have already been forced to cut spending on Children’s Centres by £2.9m since 2015 because of Tory cuts, but have still managed to keep all our Centres open.  These latest cuts could have a disastrous impact in Lambeth and result in a severe funding shortfall for these crucial services for young children and their families. 

In areas of high need and deprivation – where help to give children the best start in life is especially important – this is a perverse impact that must be avoided.

Lambeth’s Children’s Centres and nursery places at risk as government threatens to cut funding

Councillor Jane Pickard, Cabinet Member for Families and Young People, blogs on Tory funding cuts that threaten Lambeth's successful children's centres

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