Mayor John Biggs' second budget was passed by the council last night with a clear majority voting to support his "progressive and compassionate" budget.
The Mayor's three year budget protects funding for all of the borough's libraries, leisure centres, children's centres and Idea Stores as well as for Tower Hamlets' award winning parks. It also continues funding for all primary school pupils to receive free school meals and the 100% council tax discount for the poorest residents.
Tory government cuts of £58m mean a challenging time for council finances. In the recent Budget consultation of over 1,600 residents, 55% of people told us they wanted the council to be more efficient. As a result well over half of the savings will come from making council services run more cost effectively – for example, saving over £11m a year by improving procurement, debt management, and treasury management and another £12m by spending less on central support services by 2020.
As a result the Mayor is able to invest in priority areas for residents including new investment in roads and neighbourhoods, extra funding to tackle air pollution, 1,000 additional apprenticeships and a new £5m Tackling Poverty Fund.
The Mayor hit out at opposition councillors for their proposed amendments to his budget after Cllr Rabina Khan's group proposed cutting the funding for Free School Meals, children's centres and apprenticeships.
This is the second Budget that Mayor John Biggs has passed with the majority of councillors supporting it on its first meeting, something Lutfur Rahman didn't achieve once.
Mayor of Tower Hamlets John Biggs said:
"The Tory cuts are hammering local government hard with Tower Hamlets having to make £58m of savings in the next three years as a result.
"By focusing on making council services more efficient we have been able to protect frontline services. Our parks, libraries, leisure centres, children’s centres, Idea Stores, free school meals, council tax reduction scheme are all valued by residents and all protected by this progressive and compassionate Labour budget."
Deputy Mayor of Tower Hamlets Cllr Sirajul Islam said:
"Mayor Biggs' budget is a victory for residents. It protects key services like free school meals, parks, Idea Stores and community languages and invests in important areas like ESOL and apprenticeships helping residents to get into employment.
"In contrast the opposition proposals would have cut funding for free school meals, waste collection and tackling poverty – that is a disgrace."