Outcome of final budget meeting: Mayor’s budget through unamended as Councillors join forces

The first budget under the new mayoral system was yesterday (8 March 2011) agreed by Councillors.

After a robust round of debate including at a first Budget Council meeting on 23 February 2011 the Mayor’s revised budget went through unamended.

Mayor Lutfur Rahman commented, “We are being forced by central government to find £72million of cuts over the next three years. The package agreed yesterday contained £55million worth of savings, cuts and restructurings. Unfortunately because central government frontloaded the cuts we have had to find £29million of the total in 2011-12.

Councillors, along with my Cabinet, have had to wrestle with some difficult choices. The majority of Councillors agreed with me and strongly opposed the need to make these cuts at the speed and depth required of us by government. But we have accepted our responsibility to manage this difficult situation in as sensitive a manner as possible.

There is a progressive majority in the Tower Hamlets Council Chamber and in the wider community. This has meant that we have agreed a budget to safeguard key services like libraries, youth services and after schools facilities and we have also maintained our momentum in looking to build up to 4,000 affordable social rented homes. On top of this we are the only Council in the country to not consider charging for homecare – this surely is something of which we can all justly be proud.

Despite this tough spending round we have been able to freeze Council Tax for the second year in a row – and it remains one of the lowest in London.

I want to thank Councillors from parties across the chamber - Labour, Respect, Liberal Democrats and of course the Independent group - for supporting a budget that despite financial constraints will still deliver services that we as a community hold close to our hearts. I want also to acknowledge the role of my Cabinet and in particular Councillor Alibor Choudhury for their hard work and commitment to the borough in this tough economic climate.”

Cabinet member for Resources Councillor Alibor Choudhury said, “This administration has had to work fast to prepare a budget after only four months in office. It is a budget that will protect key services from the worst of the cuts and we have achieved this by taking the difficult decisions in delayering management and merging services. The public expected Councillors and the Mayor to deliver a budget that will protect services and this is what we have done.”

Deputy Mayor Councillor Ohid Ahmed commented, “Not only will we continue to employ Enforcement Officers who have done a great job in serving the public but we have agreed to support the funding of 21 Police Officers. We want residents to feel safe and this budget ensures that priority is reflected in our delivery. Whilst the cuts forced on us by central government will have some impact I believe we have fulfilled our core promise to protect the services that matter most to local people.”

View papers from the meeting

Notes to Editors

For 2011/12, the total amount payable for a property in council tax Band D is £1,195.34 (including the GLA precept, which was set by the London Assembly at a meeting on 23rd February)

The legal framework governing how the council sets its budget under the Directly Elected Mayors system is laid out in primary and secondary legislation.

Councillors have the opportunity of amending the Mayor’s budget and needed a simple majority at a first meeting to amend the Mayor’s proposals.

If the council agrees amendments that are not accepted by the Mayor a second meeting is required and the Mayor produces a revised budget. At the second meeting amendments not accepted by the Mayor require a two-thirds majority to be adopted.

The Labour amendment did not reach the two-thirds majority required with 22 votes for, 18 votes against and 8 abstentions.

The Conservative amendment did not reach the two-thirds majority required with 8 votes for, 28 against and 8 abstentions.

March 9, 2011