Mayor proposes no cuts budget and freeze in Council Tax for tenth year in a row

14 February 2018 in Council and democracy and Finance and Mayor
Mayor Sir Robin Wales is proposing once again to set the lowest Council Tax in outer London by recommending a freeze in the Newham element of the levy for the tenth year in a row.​
The Mayor’s budget proposals will be considered by the council’s Cabinet and the full Council but they recommend no cuts to frontline services and Newham’s Band D Council Tax precept kept at £945.63 for 2018/19.

In a radical move Sir Robin is proposing that money be set aside in this year’s budget to pay for a plan to be implemented in 2019/20 that would see Newham residents on the lowest incomes only having to pay half of what they would be expected to pay in Council Tax. In addition it is proposed that from 1 April, young people leaving the care of the council pay no Council Tax until the age of 25. The Mayor has also confirmed that grieving families do not to have to pay burial and cremation charges for children and young people under 18.

The Mayor is also recommending that the council refuses the Government’s offer to be to set an adults social care precept equivalent to 2% of Council Tax to offset increasing social care costs. He said: “I am clear that the council’s policy is that our residents should not be saddled with the Government’s cuts and austerity and that that includes getting residents to foot the bill for a Government social care tax.”

Funding to Newham from the Government in terms of grant has been slashed by almost half since 2010 and as a result the council has been forced to make £173.8m of savings. A further £1.171m of savings is identified in the 2018/19 budget.

Said the Mayor: “We have known for some time that traditional ways of doing things no longer work. We’ve saved money by being innovative and efficient and changing how we operate. That includes our family of small businesses which have generated substantial income, and a sensible investment strategy in commercial property which will bring in £4.4m next year. Our work is changing people’s lives and the level of trust in us is at the highest level ever.”

Despite the continuing cuts in Government funding and other pressures, the Mayor is proposing to continue investing in the things residents say are important.

These include investing in renewing roads, pavements and street lights; paying for 40 additional police officers to deal with crime and anti-social behaviour issues including those that are gang and youth-related; an enhanced enforcement presence; free school meals for primary school pupils; a renewed focus on young people, including investing in skills and training; an expanded Every Child programme; and a pilot Newham Living Well programme that explores new ways of delivering more personalised home care for older people and those with complex needs.

Sir Robin said: “I am proposing a radical budget with all of our residents in mind. Council services and our most vulnerable residents are prioritised; our part of Council Tax is frozen for the tenth year in a row and it maintains my commitment to not out-source services.

“I will continue to stand up for residents and make sure they are not bearing the brunt of the Government’s savage cuts. But more than making sure our services are protected from cuts this budget proposes investment in areas and new programmes. That means more properties for homeless households, pilot schemes in adult social care and opportunities for our young people.”