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Tower Hamlets Council is being forced to save £59m in the next four years, with £17m of savings needed in 2016, as demanded by the Conservative Government.

George Osborne confirmed in December that the Council Tax Freeze Grant would be stopped. This was used in the past by the Council to freeze council tax – however this money is no longer available to the Council. Facing cuts to funding, increasing budget pressures and a reduction in support to freeze council tax, councils across London and the UK have little choice but to raise council tax.

Many other councils across London and the UK are planning to increase council tax. Just some of the authorities that are planning to do so include: Hackney; Bexley; Barking & Dagenham; Bromley; Newham; Richmond-upon-Thames; and Lewisham.

George Osborne has also cut support for adult care budgets, instead expecting local councils to raise council tax in order to fill the gap created by the Tory cuts.

The Mayor is proposing that council tax here in Tower Hamlets is increased by 3.99%; this is made up of a 2% increase that the Conservative Government expects all councils to introduce for adult care, and an additional 1.99% increase to help meet pressures from severe cuts to council funding.

For residents, this means an increase of £16.33 per year for a Band D property, or an extra £1.36 per month.

Mayor John Biggs said: “No one wants to see Council Tax rises but over the next four years we face a £59m budget short fall. Tory cuts to local government funding means that we need to make tough choices – we can’t simply put off the tough decisions like the previous mayor did. We have proposed a balanced and prudent budget, driving out efficiencies while continuing to support those in need. This has been difficult to do given the severity of the Conservative cuts to our funding.

“The previous mayor put off the tough decisions and this has put us in a much more difficult place now, but with careful management of the Council’s resources, we have found the savings demanded of us, as well as proposing that some key frontline services can receive some additional funding. The council tax rise works out at around an extra £1.36 per month for residents and it will go some way to help protect our services.

“Proposals are being looked at for additional funding for street cleansing services and for tackling anti-social behaviour. Positive steps are being taken to invest in the education of our young people with steps to support those continuing in education at 16+ and entering higher education.”

Why Our Council Tax is Going Up

Tower Hamlets Council is being forced to save £59m in the next four years, with £17m of savings needed in 2016, as demanded by the Conservative Government. George Osborne confirmed...

The Housing and Planning Bill received its second reading in the House of Lords on Tuesday 26th Jan. At a meeting of the Full Council, Tower Hamlets Labour Group successfully proposed a motion highlighting the disastrous consequences of the Bill.

The Labour Group’s motion, speaking out against the Tory Housing Bill, calls on the Mayor to give full consideration to finding meaningful, genuinely affordable housing solutions for Tower Hamlets.

The motion, proposed by Cllr Rachel Blake and seconded by Cllr Sirajul Islam was passed by the Full Council, with the Conservative Group voting against.

Mayor John Biggs said: “The Tory Housing Bill will lead to a huge loss of affordable homes, which will only exacerbate the spiral of ever higher housing costs.

“As Executive Mayor, I have submitted evidence to the House of Commons Public Bill Committee and established a Housing Affordability Commission here at the Town Hall, to investigate the delivery of actual affordable housing in Tower Hamlets.

“One of the aims of my Commission is to determine what rent levels are affordable and to try to find a way to apply these to future housing developments and it will also consider current models for low cost Home Ownership.

“The Commission will consider the impact of the proposals in the Housing Bill on affordability in the borough, particularly the Starter Homes initiatives and Pay to Stay for high income social tenants.”

Councillor Rachel Blake, Cabinet Member for Strategic Development, said: “This Conservative Bill will force councils to sell off affordable council homes to pay for the right-to-buy extension. This could lead to thousands of homes being sold. This will deprive areas, including Tower Hamlets, of much-needed affordable housing, and councils will be robbed of the ability to cater for housing need. Further, our mixed communities will be destroyed when tenants are forced to leave their homes, unable to pay market rates as demanded by the Tories.

“Shelter has calculated that nearly 113,000 council homes could be sold off across England – this is simply unacceptable and the Labour Group is fully against these proposals.”

Councillor Sirajul Islam, Statutory Deputy Mayor and Cabinet Member for Housing Management, said: “London Households earning over £40,000 will be forced to either pay market rent, use right to buy or move out. The Tory Bill is grossly unfair and will have a thoroughly negative impact on our borough. We must all stand up against this disastrous Bill.”

Labour Group Calls for Tory Housing Bill to be Scrapped

The Housing and Planning Bill received its second reading in the House of Lords on Tuesday 26th Jan. At a meeting of the Full Council, Tower Hamlets Labour Group successfully...

At a meeting of the Full Council, Tower Hamlets Labour Group successfully proposed a motion calling on the Council to support the More Light More Power campaign.

Mayor of Tower Hamlets John Biggs also attended a public event in November to speak against the plans, alongside Hackney Mayor Jules Pipe.

The Mayor of London called in the £800m scheme last year.

At a meeting of the Tower Hamlets Strategic Development Committee in December, members agreed that if it was empowered to decide, the Council would have refused permission.

Mayor John Biggs said: “It’s important that we continue to make a strong case against the Goodsyard scheme. The full implications of the proposals have to be considered, not just waved through by the Mayor of London.

“It is very worrying that Boris Johnson seems to have disregarded the right of both Tower Hamlets and Hackney to a local planning process, instead choosing to make the decision by himself. I would urge residents to respond directly to the public consultation, which is open until February 15th.”

Councillor John Pierce commented: “The scale of the proposed Goodsyard development is massive and residents were very disappointed that the Mayor of London saw fit to call the decision in, rather than allow the local authorities to make the final decision.

“The proposed level of affordable housing is simply unacceptable and is nowhere near our targets. With the housing crisis as serious as it is, the last thing we need is a potentially damaging development with a negligible amount of affordable housing.

“We have strong concerns that the environmental impacts of this development will be really damaging. There will be a serious impact on the right to light and air quality.

“In agreeing the motion, Tower Hamlets Council has sent a strong signal to Boris Johnson that he should listen to residents’ and the Council, rather than ignore the very real concerns about the development.”

Tower Hamlets Council Supports ‘More Light More Power’ Campaign

At a meeting of the Full Council, Tower Hamlets Labour Group successfully proposed a motion calling on the Council to support the More Light More Power campaign. Mayor of Tower...

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