The South London Partnership (SLP) Boroughs of Croydon, Kingston upon Thames, Merton, Richmond upon Thames and Sutton have made a joint submission to the Government’s Spending Review, the outcome of which will have a critical impact on social, economic, equalities and sustainability outcomes for their communities and places.
Councillor Gareth Roberts, Leader of Richmond upon Thames Council and Chair of the South London Partnership, said:
Representing 1.2 million Londoners and an economy worth £32 billion before the pandemic, the SLP boroughs have pivoted their activity in the last 18 months and worked closely with partners to respond to the unprecedented challenges that Covid-19 has brought to people and businesses.
This focus as now evolved to ensure that, as we all adapt to living with Covid, we are able to play our full part in:
- addressing the health and social inequalities that have been exacerbated during lockdowns;
- supporting economic recovery that leaves no one behind and addresses the long-standing issues that have held back the full potential of South London’s economy; and
- addressing the climate emergency.
While each of the SLP boroughs is working closely with local partners on tailored responses to the particular needs and opportunities in their borough, they are also committed to collaborating sub-regionally for additional impact. Their joint submission highlights the key challenges that they need the Government to address in this Spending Review:
- Funding levels for local government should be (as a minimum) sustained for at least two years and a long-term settlement is needed for local government funding – to enable SLP boroughs to continue to support additional functions and needs arising from the pandemic and plan for and manage their services and other responsibilities efficiently and responsively.
2. Sustainable funding for adult social care is needed immediately and on a long-term basis as part of substantial reform – ensuring both the ability of social care to play its critical role in strengthening NHS resilience through the coming winter and to deliver its key functions of supporting vulnerable adults, increasing independence and contributing to prevention and co-ordinated care integrated around the needs of individuals.
- Sustainable funding for children’s services including for Special Educational Needs and Disabilities, Children’s Social Care and Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, to keep pace with increasing demand.
- Reforming homelessness funding so that it more accurately reflects local need and area costs – reflecting the ‘perfect storm’ facing SLP boroughs to ensure long-term solutions can be found for those involved in the “Everyone In” initiative during the pandemic, and to addressing growing homelessness that is anticipated to be exacerbated by the unwinding of some of the additional pandemic protections.
- Investing to secure the economic recovery for all and the future productivity and growth for the benefit of our sub-region, London and the UK as a whole.
A set of more specific challenges are highlighted on the latter, to enable the borough and partners to fulfil the ambitions set out in the SLP Economic Recovery Action Plan also published today. This plan sets out analysis of the SLP economy pre-Covid and the impacts that the pandemic has had on it, including:
- a 12 per cent economic contraction in 2020
- 32,000 jobs loss
- significant rises in unemployment, expected to peak at 6.4 per cent – a third of whom will be 16-24 year olds, 19 per cent over 50 and 13.2 per cent ethnic minorities
- significant rises in benefits claimants overall (over 15 per cent of working age adults in May 2021) and a marked exacerbation of existing problems of in-work poverty (37.9 per cent of our peak UC claimants are expected to be in employment).
The Action Plan also identifies five priorities on which the five boroughs are collaborating to support economic recovery and address some of the other issues to unleash the further potential of our sub-regional economy for the benefit of our resident and businesses and thus increase our contribution to London and the UK’s economy. Those priorities are:
- Helping Residents Into Good Work – supporting those who have lost jobs to get back into good work with upskilling, reskilling and other support to adapt to the changing labour market, while keeping a focus on those who have long faced challenges in getting into good work and addressing inequalities and in-work poverty.
- Supporting Innovation – improving business survival and renewal and increased productivity, by stimulating growth in knowledge-based businesses and jobs to create more higher skilled and higher paid work opportunities closer to home for our residents.
- Improving Infrastructure and Connectivity – supporting economic recovery and the climate emergency response by improving public transport, increasing cycling and walking, and improving digital infrastructure.
- Addressing the Climate Emergency – sharing best practice and collaborating on common challenges to respond to the climate emergency and support a green recovery.
- Revitalising High Streets and Economic Areas – sharing best practice and collaborating on common challenges facing our high streets, town centres and areas of economic activity to support their adaptation and vitality.
The SLP boroughs are already working closely with a range of partners to pursue these priorities. Eleven University and College partners have signalled their commitment to supporting South London’s economic recovery, building on collaborative work they are already developing with boroughs and businesses through the BIG South London Programme. They issued a collective statement of support for the SLP Economic Recovery Action Plan:
“As South London Universities and Colleges, we are responsible not only to our students and staff but also to the places around us. As place-based institutions, we attach a high priority to supporting the economic, social, environmental and cultural life of our local communities. That is why we have come together to endorse the publication of the South London Partnership’s Economic Recovery Action Plan and commit to building on the growing partnership between ourselves, with the Boroughs and with other partners to address the challenges and unlock the opportunities and full potential and sustainability of our local communities, economy and places.”
The Government’s Spending Review 2021 will set its resource and capital budgets for 2022-23 to 2024-25. It will conclude on 27th October and be announced alongside the Autumn Budget 2021.
The full SLP Spending Review submission can be found here.
A Press Release – including individual comments from their senior leaders – marking the University and College partners’ support for the SLP Economic Recovery Plan and commitment to collaborating with boroughs to support economic recovery will be published on the BIG South London website here.