Town Hall photo
The Mayor of Tower Hamlets’ plans to invest in new and improved public services and to protect residents from the damaging impact of the cost of living crisis have been approved by Cabinet (January 25).
They include plans that would see Tower Hamlets become the first borough in England to offer universal free school meals to both primary and secondary school children.
The plans will go before the Full Council 2023/24 budget setting meeting on Wednesday 1 March for formal adoption.
Lutfur Rahman was elected Mayor of Tower Hamlets in May last year, and has put forward his budget proposals based on issues raised by local people, the wider community, and the policies he outlined in his election manifesto.
The budget proposals include investment to support children, young people and families, with £5.7million earmarked to provide universal free school meals for all schoolchildren.
Further investment of £1.1million will support young people with the re-introduction of Education Maintenance Allowances and University Bursaries.
The budget proposals will see a freeze to the Tower Hamlets element of Council Tax for the next year, and a 2% Adult Social Care precept to raise £2.5m to help deal with increased demands on services for older and vulnerable residents.
Many older and vulnerable residents will receive additional financial support from a £2.5million investment package to provide free homecare from April 2024.
Elsewhere, there is new investment to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour, to build new homes and improve the safety of existing homes, funding for communities and leisure services, and extra support for families dealing with the cost of living crisis.
Mayor of Tower Hamlets, Lutfur Rahman said:
“I am proud to put this transformative budget forward because I know that it really will support our residents to achieve their goals, support our most vulnerable residents, and ensure that despite the cost-of-living crisis, we won’t leave anyone behind.
“We have listened to our residents’ concerns but also to their aspirations and made their priorities, our priorities.
“We would like to keep the conversation going. Give us your thoughts and ideas to help shape future budgets.”
People can give their views and ideas via the Council’s Let’s Talk Tower Hamlets engagement hub at talk.towerhamlets.gov.uk/budget-conversations
The budget plans and related key policies include:
- 1000 new affordable homes a year and improved fire safety and repairs
- £5.7m to becoming the first council in the country to provide universal free school meals for all pupils
- £2.5m to support free Homecare for vulnerable adults
- £1.1m to re-introduce Education Maintenance Allowances and university bursaries
- £730k for children with special educational and additional needs (SEND)
- £4.4m to tackle crime and ASB with new police officers and enforcement officers
- £8.5m investment to transform youth services
- £800k for community language investment
- £7m capital funding for electric waste vehicles and EV charging points and £180k annual revenue funding for low carbon fuel
- Ongoing cost of living support with an extra £700k for the tackling poverty programme
- £275k to bring leisure services back under direct council control
- £1.25m ongoing support for the voluntary and community sector
- £1.1m for improved customer services at residents’ hubs
- £487k for the full reopening of Idea Store Watney Market.
Councillor Saied Ahmed, Cabinet Member for Resources and the Cost of Living said:
“Through this budget we have shown that we can deliver a fair and balanced budget which invests to support future growth and the huge potential of our young people and all our residents. We can support the fantastic work of our partners in the voluntary and community sector and deliver much improved public and customer services for people who live, work and study in the borough.
“I’m particularly proud that our investment is not at the expense of our families who through no fault of their own are dealing with the harsh impact of the cost of living crisis or other concerns which may be impacting their health or well-being. It truly is a budget which seeks to support all our residents and I look forward to supporting the Mayor and council colleagues to implement these positive policies.”
The full set of budget related papers which were approved by Cabinet are available to view on the council website.
Posted on Thursday 26th January 2023