Mayor of Tower Hamlets John Biggs and Councillor Candida Ronald, Cabinet Member for Resources and the Voluntary Sector, have written to the Chancellor of the Exchequer in light of the Spending Review to call for increased funding and support to ensure London has a fair and strong post-pandemic recovery.

In the letter, they write in support of London Councils’ submission to the Spending Review which sets out key recovery priorities, including: offering a new deal for young people; supporting a green recovery; greater funding and powers to deliver more much-needed housing; and additional support for our local economy. They also call for more funding for local authorities.

Tower Hamlets, like other London Councils, has seen an increase in underlying demand due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. The combined impact of the £20 cut to Universal Credit, the end of furlough, rising National Insurance contributions, and the impact of rising energy prices will only worsen the impact on our already badly hit residents.

Tower Hamlets Council has had to save over £200m since 2010 due to Government austerity and increasing demand.

Councillor Candida Ronald, Cabinet Member for Resources and the Voluntary Sector, said:

“Despite the damaging effect of Tory austerity on Tower Hamlets, we have done great work in the borough such as our free school meals programme, the Mayor’s Covid recovery fund and our capital programme including new council houses, new schools, new health facilities, new roads and new parks.

“This can only continue if the Chancellor provides a much-needed increase in funding for councils to ensure a more sustainable recovery for London and beyond.”

Mayor of Tower Hamlets John Biggs said:

“Councils are walking a financial tightrope in these difficult economic times. If the Chancellor is truly serious about securing a post-pandemic economic recovery, then he must listen to the advice of the councils who are on the front line and provide a comprehensive support package in this Spending Review with increased funding for local authorities to help those residents who are desperately in need.”

 

Full Text of the Letter sent to the Chancellor:

 

Dear Chancellor

 

Spending Review 2021

 

This week’s Spending Review will have major implications for securing London’s post-pandemic recovery and for funding vital local services in Tower Hamlets.

Like many of our residents and local businesses, the council has seen its income significantly affected by the pandemic. This comes on top of over ten years of government austerity and increasing demand and, as a result, the council has had to save over £200m since 2010. We face a further threat to our finances from the so-called ‘levelling up’ agenda, the disappearance of the New Homes Bonus and a potential business rates rebase.

The Spending Review offers an opportunity to address the serious issues we face in Tower Hamlets and across London, and we are writing in support of London Councils’ submission to the Spending Review which set out key recovery priorities, including: offering a new deal for young people; supporting a green recovery; greater funding and powers to deliver more much-needed housing; and additional support for our local economy.

In addition to the above, the Spending Review must provide more funding for local authorities, and offer greater support for the many people across the country who are still struggling with the economic fallout of the pandemic.

In Tower Hamlets we have recently published our Tower Hamlets Poverty Review which found that in a typical classroom of 30 children, 17 are living below the poverty line, while at the other end of the age spectrum 44% of older people live in low income households. It also found that inequality and poverty go hand in hand; families that have a disabled member, those from Black Minority and Ethnic backgrounds, lone parents and larger families are all at greater at risk of being in poverty.

The combined impact of the £20 cut to Universal Credit, the end of furlough, rising National Insurance contributions, and the impact of rising energy prices will badly hit residents who are already in a precarious position. The Spending Review must offer more support for our residents and help to level up inequalities within London as well as elsewhere.

Similarly, the Spending Review must offer more funding for local government and provide more certainty about our funding. London Councils has estimated that boroughs require up to £2bn of additional funding over the Spending Review period to meet underlying demand, inflation and the ongoing impact of Covid-19 on lost income and additional spending.

Increased funding for local authorities is especially important given the dramatically increasing costs of adult social care in Tower Hamlets and across the country. The burden of meeting these increasing costs must not fall upon households through council tax rises that have been forced on local authorities, as has been the Government’s approach to funding social care for many years to date. This is particularly important given the looming increase in national insurance contributions and as households continue to struggle with the financial impact of the pandemic.

We support the call from London Councils that London boroughs should have a funding increase of at least 5% each year. We also urge you to consider the proposals for three-year funding certainty, including a minimum funding guarantee for all councils, confirmation of council tax principles, and certainty over the timetable and scope of the planned reforms to local government finance so that boroughs like Tower Hamlets can plan with confidence.

The Spending Review offers an opportunity to provide the funding needed to help support our local recovery from the pandemic, improve the life chances of our residents, and to put our local councils on a more sustainable financial footing. We urge you to seize this opportunity.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Mayor John Biggs

 

Cllr Candida Ronald, Cabinet Member for Resources and the Voluntary Sector

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