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.”