Later today I will be meeting with Grant Shapps MP, the Local Government Minister, to make the case for additional funding for Southwark in the next financial year. Southwark is the hardest hit of all London local authorities in the amount of money it will lose from Government grant next year - £29.7 million; with a further £17.2 million being taken next year.
This level of cuts is unprecedented and will mean that we will have to make some very difficult choices here in Southwark. No department or service will be unscathed - it is simply impossible for us to make 11% less money pay for all the same services. After you add in inflation costs and other unavoidable cost pressures the cut is equivalent to nearly £60 million.
Our meeting with Mr Shapps will also be attended by all three Southwark MPs, Harriet Harman, Simon Hughes and Tessa Jowell, as well as Cllr Tim McNally from Southwark's opposition LibDem group. Our message will be the same - Southwark will not be able to preserve all of its front-line services over the next year without some further financial support from Government.
I have no great hope that Mr Shapps will offer us any further funding - but he must at least recognise that the problems facing a borough such as ours are many - and expensive to solve. With consistently increased funding during the lifetime of the last Labour Government we did make real progress in tackling some of the real problems which flow from having an inner-city borough with high levels of deprivation. I fear that some of this progress will be lost if Mr Shapps cannot provide some real cash this afternoon.