Tower Hamlets’ Labour Council has announced its budget proposals which aims to help residents with the cost of living and invests in the services they rely on. The proposals would freeze the council’s portion of Council Tax this year and protect services by proposing no new cuts to council services.
The Labour Mayor and Councillors recognise the impact the Tory Cost of Living Crisis and the triple whammy of the £20 cut to Universal Credit, the National Insurance tax hike, and rising energy prices is having on household budgets. The council tax freeze will give respite to residents at a time when prices are rising and the impact of covid is still making life very difficult. The budget also protects the Council Tax Reduction Scheme which helps those on low incomes, meaning the poorest residents don’t have to pay a single penny of council tax. Tower Hamlets will continue to have one of the lowest council taxes in London.
The budget proposals invest in a cleaner, safer and fairer borough and unlock opportunity for all. It protects council-funded Free School Meals so 19,000 children get a meal, which equates to an estimated saving of £450 per child for families. It invests in new council homes to move families off the housing waiting list and out of overcrowded or unsuitable homes into genuinely affordable high-quality housing. It also invests in a ‘fire safety team’ to address building safety issues across the borough.
Despite over a decade of austerity the Labour-run Council has worked hard to keep services open, for example keeping all Idea Stores and libraries open when nationally over 800 libraries have closed since 2010.
This Budget will:
- Invest in additional waste and recycling collections to meet the increased demands of more people working from home plus more street cleansing in ‘hot spots’.
- Protect funding for council funded police officers so residents see more bobbies on the beat.
- Give our young people the best start in life by protecting our investment in Free School Meals and our Children’s Centres.
- Tackle the housing crisis by delivering new council homes at genuinely affordable rents.
- Protect residents on low incomes through our 100% Council Tax Reduction Scheme.
- Tackle the climate emergency by investing to make us a carbon neutral council by 2025, a carbon neutral borough by 2045, and deliver school and play streets.
- Extend opportunity to all by investing to tackle digital inclusion.
- Invest in good services for all, including our Idea Stores and libraries, and our award-winning parks.
The council has kept key services running despite the challenges of the pandemic and has been there for residents, setting up a dedicated helpline as well as providing testing facilities and distributing thousands of food parcels and items of PPE (personal protective equipment). By continuing to invest in services the council can continue to support the community through the ongoing pandemic.
This year’s budget proposals will be debated at the Full Council meeting on Wednesday 2nd March. You can read the full Budget proposals here:
Mayor of Tower Hamlets, John Biggs said:
“This is an ambitious budget that invests in residents’ priorities as we focus on recovering from the pandemic.
“It puts our residents first by protecting and investing in the services they rely on. Despite the damaging impact of over a decade of Tory austerity on Tower Hamlets, we’ve worked hard to support local residents. This budget protects the universal services our residents rely on and maintains our support for those facing hardship.
“When I was first elected I inherited a council in chaos, but we’ve come a long way since then and this budget continues our journey of progress in delivering a cleaner, safer and fairer Tower Hamlets.”
Councillor Candida Ronald, Cabinet Member for Resources and the Voluntary Sector said:
“The Tory Cost of Living Crisis has hit our residents hard, and at the same time we are still feeling the damaging effects of the pandemic.
“This budget will provide our residents with some much-needed respite by freezing the Council’s portion of Council Tax this year, and I’m proud that we continue to be one of the few councils to continue to offer up to 100% Council Tax Reduction Scheme which is a real lifeline for residents struggling to make ends meet.”
- The council is setting a one-year budget as the Government has only given a one-year funding settlement and we await further details of what their ‘Levelling Up’ agenda will mean for councils like Tower Hamlets.
- The Council is planning to apply the 1% Adult Social Care precept that the Government expects councils to apply to pay for care for the most vulnerable residents which equates to an extra 21p a week for the average council tax bill
- The council’s budget consultation saw around 1,900 people share their views on what the council should prioritise. Almost half say that community safety should be the top priority for the council and these proposals protect the investment in council funded police officers.
- Tower Hamlets has faced over a decade of austerity from the government during which time the council has had to save over £200m due to cuts to funding and increased demands for services
- 33,966 residents have been in receipt of Council Tax Reduction so far this year with 18,530 cases receiving 100% relief, meaning they pay no council tax