QUIT SMOKING WITH HELP OF NEW ONLINE TOOL IN LEWISHAM – AND A SMOKERS HELPLINE IN LAMBETH / HELP LEWISHAM TACKLE BLUE BADGE FRAUD / SOUTHWARK DRAFT BUDGET FOR 2018/2019 – response to draft local government settlement

QUIT SMOKING WITH HELP OF NEW ONLINE TOOL
 
Smokers in Lewisham can now get support to stop smoking at a time that suits you using a free online quit tool, which you can access from your phone, tablet or computer.

How the online tool works

The new online tool allows you to get a prescription for nicotine replacement therapies (NRT), such as patches, gum and sprays, without having to visit your GP. The service lasts for eight weeks and during this time you can:

access information online
get text messages to support you and keep you on track
contact an advisor at any stage to ask questions by phone, email or text and get face-to- face support.

Choose if you want NRT

The NRT prescription is optional, and you can just use the service for information, advice and text updates if you want.

Who is eligible

You can use the quit tool if you live, work or study in Lewisham, your GP is Lewisham-based and has signed up to the service.

How to access the service

To use the new online tool:

visit the Smokefree Lewisham website
answer questions to assess your smoking habits and eligibility to access the service
decide if you want to use NRT and select your two preferred therapies from the available treatments
your chosen NRT request will be sent to your GP
you can collect your prescription from your GP surgery (without a GP appointment)
choose a quit date
you will get a text reminder before your quit date.

As well as using the new tool, you can still access our stop smoking services which include specialist advisory services in hospitals, GP surgeries and local community venues. (Source: Lewisham council press release.)

NEW HELPLINE FOR SMOKERS IN LAMBETH
 
Smokers in Lambeth who crave a simple and convenient way to kick the habit can now get advice from a new London helpline, which provides personal coaching and support.

The Stop Smoking London helpline (0300 123 1044) has been funded by 30 London boroughs in partnership with the Association of Directors of Public Heath (ADPH) in London.

Trained advisers work with smokers to understand their habit and signpost them to help in their local area, or offer them the opportunity of personal telephone-based support.

Smokers can call the local rate number seven days a week – Monday to Fridays from 9am to 8pm and on Saturday and Sunday between 11am and 4pm. For more information about the range of support available for smokers, they can visit http://www.stopsmoking.portal.com.

They will be able to speak to a professionally trained advisor to find out what support is available in their area and establish which quit methods will work best, from different types of medication, to mobile apps and specialist programmes. (Source: Lambeth council’s Love Lambeth website)

HELP LEWISHAM TACKLE BLUE BADGE FRAUD
 
We’re cracking down on Blue Badge misuse in the borough.

On 14 December, we issued 10 penalty charges notices (PCN) and seized five Blue Badges due to misuse after we carried out checks on cars in Lewisham and Deptford town centres. This included cases where the badge holder was not present, drivers were using out-of-date badges and individuals were continuing to use the badges of their deceased relatives.

We are now considering the most serious of these cases for legal action, which could result in a fine of up to £1,000 in addition to the PCN.

Help legitimate Blue Badge holders get fair treatment from motorists and report Blue Badge abuse to our Anti-Fraud and Corruption Team on 0800 0850119. (Source: Lewisham council press release.)

SOUTHWARK DRAFT BUDGET FOR 2018/2019 – response to draft local government settlement
 
Southwark council “remain committed to spending every penny as if it were our own” in the face of £12m worth of government funding cuts and major spending pressures for vital public services like adults’ and children’s social care, says a council statement.

The updated budget proposals significantly reduce the budget gap to £5.6m from the £16-£19m gap presented to the council’s cabinet in July 2017.

Demand on adult social care services continues to grow and for 2018/2019 Southwark Council is proposing a sustainable adult social care budget that is £14m larger than last year. This will be made up of growth in the Improved Better Care Fund of £10.9m, raising the adult social care precept by a further 3% and continued efficiency savings in how the council delivers its services.

There are also significant challenges in children’s services and education as the government has withdrawn various grants. The services the council provides to schools are vital components of recent GCSE and A-Level success. The council is determined to continue to offer these services. To do that, Southwark Council is proposing to increase its general fund contribution to education services by £1.3m.

Also set out in the report are £18.7m of savings, a combination of efficiency savings (£11.5m), additional income from fees and charges (£6.8m) and also savings which will impact on services (£0.4m).

On 19 December Sajid Javed MP, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, presented the provisional Local Government Settlement to parliament. It did not contain the additional funding for local government services that councils had called for, but did raise the limit on council tax increases from 1.99 per cent to 2.99pc in addition to the adult social care precept.

Cllr Fiona Colley, cabinet member for finance, modernisation and performance said: “Southwark faces enormous funding cuts with a loss of £12m of government funding and specific grants. These funding cuts come at a time of continuing demands and pressures on our services, particularly social care, children’s services, education, homelessness and welfare support.

“Alongside other growing costs such as pay, inflation and IT, as well as having to cope with £12m of cuts, we also need to fund £38.7m of additional spending commitments.

“The good news for Southwark is that our continuing growth in homes and in our local economy is providing us with strong growth in income. “We are currently estimating an additional £16.4m of resources available thanks to this growth and the success of our exchequer services team in collecting more income that we had previously anticipated. “But despite this additional income and the savings proposed, a budget gap of £5.6m remains.

“It is deeply disappointing that the government has not accepted our calls for more funding for vital services like children’s social care. “I have already taken the opportunity to raise the lack of funding for vulnerable children with the Secretary of State and we will continue to press for fair funding for local services. “We will continue to lobby the government for more funding, however faced with a £5.6m budget deficit we will also have to consider the possibility of further service reductions and increases in council tax.”

Note: A 2.99 per cent council tax increase is new the maximum permitted by government without a referendum. In Southwark this would raise £2.775m of additional income towards the current £5.6m budget gap.

LGA position on the local government finance settlement:
https://www.local.gov.uk/local-government-finance-settlement-2018 (Source: Southwark council press release)

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