A 3.99 per cent hike in council tax has been approved by the full Southwark Council assembly, as well as an extra £1.5 million for children’s mental health services.  

The 2020/21 budget was approved on Wednesday, February 26, and included £2.4 million in cuts to adult social care, £1.4 of which was a cut  to care packages in the borough.  

Cuts of nearly £7 million were approved, including the closure the Aylesbury Day Nursery, which will save the council £150,000.  

According to council documents: “This decision reflects the current stage of the regeneration of the Aylesbury and the reduced need for nursery places at this time.  

“The majority of families using the nursery will have children of school age by September 2020 and the closure will be timed to coincide with this.” 

The council plans to cut more than £160,000 from two advice services – £33,000 from Southwark Law Centre and £130,000 from Citizens Advice Bureau. 

Presenting the report, Councillor Victoria Mills, cabinet member for finance, performance and Brexit, blamed a “decade of Tory austerity” for the cuts.  

Cllr Mills said Southwark “can’t have anymore sticking plasters” for social care, adding that more Government funding was needed for education, specifically SEN services. 

The council dedicated an extra £1.5 million for children’s preventative mental health services, as well as £2 million for tackling the climate emergency.  

“There is over £1 million for a sure start approach for teenagers.  

“We are at last able to work together to bring together the many agencies that can and should support our teenagers and parents at times of crisis.  

“There is an amazing £1.5 million extra for preventative mental health services for children and young people – that builds on the £2 million investment we made last year,” Cllr Mills said.  

Extra funds were put aside for drug and alcohol services, as well as a full rollout of nursery school meals.  

Cllr Mills added: “The Tory Government has spent the last five years being cruel but also being chaotic and it needs to start planning for the next five years.” 

The Liberal Democrats tabled three amendments, including action on the climate emergency, reversing the cuts to advice services, and being “more innovative” around income generation, all of which were rejected.  

Liberal Democrat Councillor Jane Salmon said cutting advice services was “inexcusable and somewhat shameful”.  

“We have to propose an amendment that reverses your cuts to vital legal support services, to them and some of our most vulnerable citizens. 

“We just don’t understand how you can rationally justify this decision to cut the funding to Southwark Law and Citizens Advice Southwark.  

“Any such cuts to these vital free services can only impact residents who find themselves in desperate need of expert advice. 

“You should never cut funding to these hugely important bodies,” she said.  

She said increasing council tax and raising fees was “not sustainable”.  

The amendment on raising funds included introducing a voluntary levy on visitors to Southwark, a work place parking levy, and £270,000 set aside to create an income generating team.  

“Instead of moaning about how hard-done by we are, we need to foster a more entrepreneurial spirit,” Cllr Salmon said.  

To reverse the cuts Cllr Hamish McCallum said the council should reduce spending on its “own self-promotion” and urged councillors to “say no to your inner Dominic Cummings”. 

A Labour amendment, which included an extra £50,000 for the Southwark Scholars programme, £100,000 to set up a renters’ union, and carrying out a review of how much it would cost to set up a black cultural centre in the borough, was approved.