Last night, Tower Hamlets Council met to discuss and debate the budget for the next financial year. The Borough, with the highest child poverty in the UK and facing severe Tory government imposed cuts, faces key decisions on issues that should be prioritised. The National Labour party has pledged to extend free childcare from 15 to 25 hours for working parents with three and four-year-olds paid for by an increase in the bank levy.
TH Labour Group’s proposals focussed on tackling child poverty, cleaning up our streets, making sure our streets are safe and fighting against Mayor Lutfur Rahman’s vanity spending.
Labour proposed scrapping the Mayoral car, cutting his advisors and cutting council communications – saving nearly £600,000. The Mayor’s advisors alone cost council taxpayers £350k.
Labour believes this money is better invested in:
* Investing £250k into childcare places for two-year-olds
* Reversing cuts to streetcare monitoring
* Investing in a 24 hour noise service
* Reversing cuts to the Leaving Care Service
Cllr Rachael Saunders, Leader of Tower Hamlets Labour Group, said:
“Tower Hamlets Council has the highest rate of child poverty in the UK and that is something the Council must be absolutely focussed on changing.
Lutfur Rahman promised to protect frontline services – he has failed in that. He tried to close our nurseries and his budget proposes severe cuts to the Leaving Care Service, a vital frontline service that encourages opportunities in education, training and employment for Looked After Young People and care leavers.
Labour will continue to fight against child poverty, both in Tower Hamlets and across the UK.”
Cllr Danny Hassell, Labour lead for Schools and Children's Services, said:
“Our proposals reflect the clear commitment that Labour has to protect vital front line services. Nationally Labour has pledged an increase of hours for three and four year old places and locally we have proposed further investment in two year old places. We believe that a good area of investment is funding to help schools, which have an attached nursery, to give them the support and funding to help develop this provision. We know that these settings will be able to provide the high quality provision that is necessary to give these poorest children the very best start in life.”
Cllr Ayas Miah, of Tower Hamlets Labour Group, said:
“Cutting vital frontline services seem to be a theme of the Mayor’s budget proposals – and that’s why Labour is proposing we protect the Leaving Care Service from damaging cuts. The Labour Group firmly believes that paying for police officers to keep our streets safe is far more important than paying for the Mayor’s expensive lawyers and judicial reviews with public money.
The Labour Group argues that spending hundreds of thousands on communications for the Mayor, while Tower Hamlets has the highest rate of child poverty in the UK, is simply wrong and must not continue.”