Labour Mayor John Biggs has hailed his first annual council budget as “a Budget to move Tower Hamlets forward”, and urged councillors to recognise the progress made since his election as Mayor in June 2015. The Mayor’s final Budget proposal is set to be considered by a meeting of all councillors on Wednesday 24th February 2016.
Mayor John Biggs said: “Labour is cleaning up Tower Hamlets – with more money for street cleaning, fixing historic problems, and bringing real transparency to the Town Hall. My first Budget moves Tower Hamlets forward by putting residents first – with extra money to tackle anti-social behaviour, decent wages for our carers, and a new investment fund to build more genuinely affordable housing.”
“The unnecessary and savage cuts made to our community by the Tories have made setting a Budget much harder. The council needs to make savings of £17m this year, so we have had difficult decisions to make, but I’m confident that we are protecting the services that residents value and rely on the most. Unfortunately this means that Council Tax will rise by about £1.36 a month for the average household. This was not an easy decision, but there was little choice after the Tories abolished the Council Tax Freeze Grant, and refused to properly fund vital services for vulnerable adults and the elderly.”
“Our borough has had a troubled past, but my first Budget is an important step to help move Tower Hamlets forward. I have been transparent and honest about the difficult decisions that we have to consider. I urge councillors of all parties to recognise the progress made in the previous six months, and put residents first by voting to agree my proposed Budget.”
The Tory government has confirmed huge cuts to funding for Tower Hamlets Council, which will mean the council will have £59m less to spend on services by 2019, with £17m of savings needed in this year alone. Council tax will rise as a result of the Tory decision to abolish the Council Tax Freeze grant which previously allowed councils to keep council tax down, and to ask councils to increase council tax by 2% to try to meet the gap caused by cuts to funding for vulnerable adults and the elderly.
Key 2016/17 Budget Facts:
- £1 million more to be spent on street cleansing and tackling Anti-Social Behaviour, and an extra £465,000 to be spent on waste collection and treatment
- Mayor Biggs also allocated £200,000 extra funding for the Clean Team, launched a Fly-Tip Squad, and scrapped the £15 bulky waste charge introduced by the previous mayor
- £1 million to be spent this year to implement the Ethical Care Charter, to improve pay and conditions for local care workers and improve services for vulnerable adults
- Council Tax will increase by 3.99% - which is £16.33 per year for a Band D property, or an extra £1.36 per month
- Housing Affordability Commission launched to investigate the delivery of actual affordable housing in Tower Hamlets, and £7m Local Authority Grant Fund for Registered Providers introduced to fund 70 new social homes towards the Mayor’s target of 1,000 new council homes
- Locally, the Council is managing increasing costs of £5.8m due to the cost of social care packages and home care