Tower Hamlets councillors last night approved the budget and council tax rates for the next financial year following extensive consultation with local residents businesses and community groups.
The Mayor of Tower Hamlets, John Biggs spoke in the council chamber about the financial challenges that were being faced and how he wanted to deliver a budget to invest in the services that local people value and rely on.
The new budget sees major new funding for children’s services, education, community safety and housing. A small rise in council tax has been limited to the rate of inflation (2.4%) plus 1% the government expects councils to raise to support adult social care. This keeps the council tax the 7th lowest in London, and the council continues to offer one of the most generous council tax reduction schemes in the country. .
Councillors were told that government core funding has been cut by £148m (which equates to 64%) since 2010, and the council has to make further savings of £44m by 2022.
At the same time the borough has one of the fastest growing populations in the country, large pockets of deprivation, and many residents who rely on frontline council services to support them and their families.
The council launched the ‘Your Borough, Your Future’ budget consultation campaign at the end of last year. Its aim was to raise public awareness and understanding about the financial pressures the council faces, and give local people the chance to talk about the services that are important to them.
Residents were invited to a series of local budget roadshow events and 2,024 local residents, businesses and communities groups responded to a budget survey.
Feedback showed that children’s services, education, housing and community safety were the services people valued most, and a majority of residents said that they would support increases to council tax to help protect frontline services and help to fund adult social care.
The Mayor of Tower Hamlets, John Biggs said: “We’ve listened to our residents and they have told us about the council services they value and rely on. There’s no escaping the fact that these are challenging times and as a council we continue to have to deal with huge levels of government cuts. However, we are delivering a positive budget, which invests in the prosperity of the borough and enables every Tower Hamlets residents to reach their full potential”
Councillor Candida Ronald, Cabinet Member for Resources and the Voluntary Sector said: “I’m grateful to all those who have made their voices heard as we have completed our budget process. This is the first budget I have led on and I’ve been encouraged by the positive approach we have been able to take. As a result we have a budget which not only continues to tackle poverty and support vulnerable people, but also invests heavily in the local services and the economy.”
The new council budget provides.
New investment in early years, additional support for schools, protecting free school meals for all primary school pupils, and expanding the council’s tackling poverty fund.
Funding secured for two new secondary schools and investment in a new footbridge across South Dock on the Isle of Dogs.
A new team of anti-social behaviour enforcement officers to keep streets safe on top of the additional police officers already funded by the council.
New funding to improve waste services and a new team to remove graffiti and help keep the borough clean.
£332m for new council housing schemes across the borough, and temporary accommodation.
Continued protection for key frontline services and investment in our Idea Stores and libraries, leisure centres and gyms.
Help to bring our communities together by scrapping the charge for street parties.
The full budget report is available to read on the council’s website: