The new Mayor of Tower Hamlets, Lutfur Rahman and his colleagues in the Aspire Group this week voted against a Tower Hamlets Labour motion which pressed for an Emergency Budget to introduce much-needed measures to help struggling residents across the borough.
In a meeting of Tower Hamlets Council on Wednesday 27th July, which also saw the new Mayor and his Aspire Group ignore questions from opposition members, Aspire proposed an amendment to the Labour Group motion on an Emergency Budget to tackle the Cost of Living Crisis which nullified the true meaning of the motion and was more focused on congratulating the Mayor and repeating its adoption of the Aspire Manifesto, which it had already approved earlier in the meeting for the administration’s own motion.
Significantly, Aspire’s amendment deleted the entire package of meaningful support proposed by the Tower Hamlets Labour Group.
Mayor Rahman and the Aspire Group voted against:
- Increasing the “Standard Utilities Allowance” used in the calculation of Homecare charges from £5 a week back to £15 a week as of 1st April 2022;
- Allocating a sum of £500,000 to top-up the Discretionary Housing Payment funding pot to the same level as 2021/22;
- Allocating a £500,000 Council Tax “Hardship Fund” for residents struggling with these bills;
- Setting aside a total sum of £100,000 to award one-off grants to the voluntary food-banks operating in Tower Hamlets in 2022/23 so that they are better able to ensure no-one goes hungry in the East End this year;
- Allocating an additional sum of £150,000 to the School Uniform Grant funding to enable an increase in the £110 allowance per child agreed in 2019/20 and a second payment to be made for each eligible child, for example when starting Primary School
Leader of the Tower Hamlets Labour Group, Cllr Sirajul Islam said:
“The Cost of Living Crisis is the biggest issue encountering residents across Tower Hamlets, and the feedback my colleagues and I receive from residents as local Councillors is that they are desperate for the Council to provide them with support during these turbulent times.
“This was an opportunity for Mayor Rahman to work across the political divide and vote for measures to immediately help the poorest residents in our borough. He has failed.”
Cllr Marc Francis, who proposed the motion, said:
“Our motion was focused on putting forward an emergency budget to help our vulnerable residents survive this crisis. Mayor Rahman and his Aspire Group instead voted against our measures and replaced them with vague promises and self-congratulations.
“All parties need to work together in the Council to combat the Cost of Living Crisis.”
Cllr Mufeedah Bustin, who seconded the motion, said:
“The Cost of Living Crisis is above politics – it is our duty as elected representatives to help our residents in any way we can to ensure they are not left behind in these devastating economic times. Our motion had good, strong, viable ideas to implement for the benefit of our residents. Instead we received an amendment approved by the Aspire Group that in no way addresses the scale of this crisis.”