The council has approved its budget for 2020/21. It prioritises the protection of the borough’s most vulnerable residents while investing in community safety, housing and public health.
The budget proposals, formally adopted at a meeting of the full council on 19 February, were shaped by an extensive public consultation and include continued funding commitments for key services that residents and businesses have said they value and rely on.
Mayor John Biggs said: “Councils across the country continue to face unprecedented financial challenges as a result of central government funding cuts. In Tower Hamlets, we’ve had to save £190 million since 2010 and in the next three years we expect to need to save a further £39m.
“Despite this, we have passed a budget that sets out an ambitious and positive plan for the next three years. We’re putting our most vulnerable residents first and protecting frontline services while investing in new homes, better jobs and cleaner, greener, safer streets.”
Council tax will increase by 1.99 per cent, with an additional two per cent increase which will be spent specifically on the delivery of adult social care. Tower Hamlets is still expected to have the seventh lowest council tax in the country.
This year’s budget will:
- Invest in Idea Stores, libraries, gyms, leisure centres and parks.
- Allocate an extra £7.2m for children’s social care and special educational needs and disabilities and a further £12.4m for supporting vulnerable adults.
- Continue to fund additional police officers to keep our streets safe and tackle drug-related crime.
- Deliver new council homes and thousands more new affordable homes.
- Provide free school meals for all primary school pupils in the borough.
- Keep the streets clean with a new in-house waste service.
- Protect the poorest in our communities with a 100 per cent council tax discount and a range of programmes funded by our Tackling Poverty Fund.
- Support thousands more local people into work or training.
- Transform our neighbourhoods through our Liveable Streets programme to cut down on rat running, improve air quality and make our roads more pedestrian friendly.
He also announced his intention to build on the work of the council’s Tackling Poverty Fund by collaborating with key partners and stakeholders to establish a poverty commission.
Cllr Candida Ronald, Cabinet Member for Resources and the Voluntary Sector, said: “Our extensive consultation told us that children’s services, education and protecting and supporting vulnerable children and adults were the things that mattered most to our residents. Those priorities are reflected in the choices we’ve made as part of this budget.
“Despite the financial challenges and ongoing uncertainty about the level of future government support I’m proud of this budget. Every pound we spend must contribute to a positive impact on the lives of our residents.”
The council launched its ‘Your Borough, Your Future’ consultation in October 2019 to hear the views of residents, businesses and community organisations. More than 2,000 residents and businesses had the opportunity to give their views online and in person.
Information on the key proposals was sent to every household and the council commissioned a telephone survey that was used to reach out to 1,100 residents and 500 businesses.
The responses in the consultation showed strong support for the council’s push to make services more efficient and to increase income generation to protect frontline services. The council will continue with this approach in the future, extending the range of services people can access online while providing more targeted support for those who need it.
In addition, more than 60 people attended a special budget focused Ask The Mayor event in January where Mayor Biggs answered questions on a range of issues from community safety to education.
Posted on Thursday 20th February 2020