Residents, businesses and organisations are being urged to take part in a budget consultation as ongoing financial pressures, including responding to Covid-19 means that despite saving £200million since 2020, we now have to save a further £30m by 2024.
This year the council is spending £1.2 billion gross expenditure (£354.5 million net expenditure budget) on public services to support people and improve lives. Over half of the net budget is spent on supporting children and vulnerable adults.
Covid-19 has had a huge impact on council services and finances. The scale of the situation the council faces has been further highlighted as the country is about to go into a further period of national lockdown.
The savings needed are also subject to additional uncertainty as this depends on the extent to which the Government provides additional funding for Covid-19 pressures, and the impact of the pandemic on reduced income from council tax and business rates.
Despite challenges from budget cuts, increases in demand from vulnerable residents and a rising population, the council has continued to invest in frontline services and has the seventh lowest council tax in London.
John Biggs, Mayor of Tower Hamlets said: “Despite the challenges we face, I am proud of our progress in making Tower Hamlets a cleaner, safer and fairer borough while protecting frontline services and our most vulnerable residents.
“The impact of Covid-19 has highlighted the importance of public services. However, while the Government said that local councils should do ‘whatever it takes’ to support their communities, they have not fully covered the reduced income and increased costs we have faced and this is on top of over a decade of austerity.
“As we decide where we will spend your council tax we want to hear about the services you value the most.’’
Councillor Candida Ronald, Cabinet Member for Resources and the Voluntary Sector said: “We can be proud of the way in which our whole community has come together in response to Covid-19. It’s important that people take part in this budget consultation to ensure that their voices are heard during these challenging times. We need residents’ help to shape the future of the borough.”
The council is committed to adapting its services with a continuing focus to make them more efficient. It also has a number of anti-poverty measures in place including funding for free school meals and one of the most generous council tax reduction schemes in the country.
The budget consultation is live at talk.towerhamlets.gov.uk/budget and runs until 5pm on Wednesday 9 December. A budget consultation booklet, (available to view via the online consultation, will also be distributed to homes across the borough.
A virtual budget special ‘Ask The Mayor’ event is being planned for later this month and details will be available on Talk Tower Hamlets, as well as the council social media and website.
Posted on Wednesday 4th November 2020