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Budget to safeguard services and tackle the cost of living crisis

School meals - Marner Primary School

Free school meals funding continues

Tower Hamlets is expected to retain one of the lowest council tax rates in London and is investing in services to tackle the cost of living crisis, after the budget was approved last night. 

Councillors approved the Mayor’s proposals at the budget full council meeting on Wednesday 2 March.

The new budget freezes the council’s portion of council tax, with a one per cent rise in the Adult Social Care precept to support the borough’s older and vulnerable residents.

There will be more money for waste and recycling services, adult social care, special educational needs services, community safety, tackling violence against women and girls, supporting carers, supporting residents with their energy bills, getting more people online and more funding for a fire safety team.

Council-funded police officers will also continue, with new investment for improved CCTV to help keep the borough safe. This builds on an earlier announcement that £3m would be spent upgrading the entire public space CCTV network.

Mayor of Tower Hamlets, John Biggs, said: “As we continue our path through the pandemic, I know that many families are seriously worried about the cost of living crisis. At this stage the full impact on local people is still not known as residents face even greater hikes in food and energy costs, interest rates and National Insurance.

“That’s why our budget gives extra financial support for residents and continues to invest in crucial services for children and vulnerable adults, and other frontline services such as waste and recycling, housing and community safety.”

Cllr Candida Ronald, Cabinet Member for Resources and the Voluntary Sector, said: “Supporting families facing the cost of living crisis is at the heart of our budget which includes protection for free school meals for 19,000 primary school children, this is equivalent to £450 per child each year.

“There’s a range of extra financial help for struggling households, and we’re proud to be protecting our 100 per cent council tax reduction scheme, which few councils now offer, so the poorest households won’t pay any council tax at all.”

There will be investment in new high-quality council homes, jobs and training, Idea Stores and libraries, parks and major new sports and leisure services.

The budget follows consultation with residents at the end of last year, with feedback informing the income and spending plans. In the consultation, community safety, children’s services, street cleaning and waste, public health and housing were among the services most valued by residents.

Notes: 

The total amount of council tax for a Band D property will be £1,519.98 of which £1,124.39 helps to pay for council services. The remainder of £395.59 is collected on behalf of the Greater London Authority (GLA), which means an overall extra 83p per week for an average property.

Since 2010 the council has saved over £200m due to government funding cuts and increased demand on services. Ongoing uncertainty around how the government will fund councils in the future means that boroughs like Tower Hamlets face the prospect of even less income despite increasing demand on services.

The full budget report is available to view on the council’s website and went before all councillors at the budget full council meeting on Wednesday 2 March.

Posted on Thursday 3rd March 2022